By: Mark Glennon*

Aside from routine testing for current COVID-19 infections, other tests look for antibodies that indicate previous infection, perhaps without the victim even knowing it. They’re called “serology tests” and they are important because those who were previously infected are widely thought to be immune, at least to some significant degree, from further coronavirus infection.

An excellent article in the Chicago Tribune Friday covers the results of antibody testing on Chicagoans. Nearly 1 in 5 Chicago residents tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to preliminary results of an ongoing study by Northwestern University researchers, reports the Tribune. That 20% rate is far higher than thought to be common. The Center for Disease Control, for example, currently estimates that only about 10% of the nation has antibodies.

Think about what that means. It means about 540,000 Chicagoans have been infected, which is over six times more than the 83,500 officially reported number of cases. The number of “cases,” which you always see reported, is just the number of those who have tested positive for a current infection. Obviously, actual number of infections in people who never got tested because they never got sick is vastly higher.

And the chances of getting infected are therefore also far lower than commonly thought, at least in Chicago, if the study’s initial results are accurate. That’s because those who were already infected have the antibodies that provide a level of immunity.

Since April Wirepoints has criticized the State of Illinois’ refusal to collect and publish antibody test results. If Illinoisans are to have an accurate understanding of the true risks they face from coronavirus, serology test results are essential.

But those test results can only point in one direction – toward less risk. It’s only a matter of how much less risk. That’s why we were not surprised by the results published by the Tribune. We suspect the state has no interest in collecting or publishing information that would indicate less risk. The state left it to the hit and miss of whether other groups would do any testing, and we are fortunate that the Northwestern researchers have taken up the task, at least for Chicago.

The state’s initial excuse for stonewalling antibody testing was the inaccuracy of many antibody tests, and earlier there was legitimate concern that individuals would foolishly rely on faulty tests to think they were immune.

But that never was an excuse for failing to collect the test results for research purposes and a broader understanding of the risks presented by COVID. For those purposes, researchers corrected for error levels. More importantly, better tests were on the market by May, with very high accuracy levels confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration, eliminating that excuse.

We still need better information on antibody testing and it should be statewide. Chicago’s high positive rate may not be typical, since the outbreak was initially concentrated there, but we should know. If containment efforts are to be directed smartly they should be informed by antibody tests that show where immunity levels are high or low.

More comprehensive antibody information would also be important to considering to the new line of thinking being embraced by thousands of scientists about how to deal with coronavirus. That’s what’s called the Great Barrington Declaration, described here, which has been signed by many of the world’s top epidemiologists.

Their view is that containment and distancing efforts should be narrowly targeted on high risk groups, and others should be encouraged to resume a normal life. They oppose mass restrictions and shutdowns. To properly implement that new approach it obviously would be useful to define high risk groups as precisely as possible, and antibody tests would be extremely useful for that.

Just don’t expect to hear any of that from the State of Illinois.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

More of our original stories on COVID-19 are collected here.

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NB-Chicago
15 days ago

Are any other states antibody testing and releasing the data?

Mike
15 days ago

Can infection and serology (antibody) tests be administered during the same appointment?

What is the cost and availability?

I wonder how many people driving vehicles solo wearing a mask have COVID-19 antibodies but do not know it.

Seems like many of those would have reduced anxiety knowing they survived a COVID-19 infection without even knowing they were infected.

Such antibody carriers would no doubt spread the word, disrupting the narrative pushed by fear mongers who refuse to put COVID-18 into perspective.

Fur
15 days ago
Reply to  Mike

“Seems like many of those would have reduced anxiety knowing they survived a COVID-19 infection without even knowing they were infected.”

Great point Mike.

Matt
16 days ago

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html ^0.11% of Chicago has died from covid according to the city’s data. This study actually supports the CDC’s current best estimate of covid mortality, which is 0.6% when you apply to the age distribution in the US. Chicago hospitals never overflowed so this is a better result than NYC’s 1.2%. However, you can see the risk is exponentially higher with age as covid poses less risk than flu for people under 30-40, and much greater risk for the elderly. Listening to Gov Pritzker, you would think covid spread is due to meddlesome Republicans who ignore his decries. However, his… Read more »

Poor Taxpayer
16 days ago

It is like the Pension debt, 6 times more than reported.
Grows like cancer and will kill like cancer.

Marty Chicago
16 days ago

Were the people tested selected randomly? If the only people who were tested were those that volunteered, the test is biased.

Pylorus
15 days ago
Reply to  Marty Chicago

It’s difficult to determine if it were a randomly selected sample since there is no published paper, they only released preliminary data (from what I could find). It looks as though the samples they used were from people that were interested to know if they carried antibodies and conducted the blood test at home and sent it to the researchers at Northwestern. It will be easier to determine any bias when they publish their full reports and it is peer reviewed.

Marty Chicago
15 days ago
Reply to  Pylorus

Thanks.

taxpaying citizen
16 days ago

It seems the general public accepts the test (positive or negative) used for SARS CoV 2 as accurate results despite asymptomatic cases. The PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test method was invented by Nobel Laureate Karry Mullis and is the test used to ‘detect’ SARS-2. And its not all that accurate. Interesting lengthy read (move past author’s commentary) about the PCR method and a interview with Mullis who had criticized its use in detecting HIV and AIDS and its relevancy today. Onto SARS-2: “CDC 2019-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel.” That means it is a needle in a DNA haystack test. A PCR… Read more »

Last edited 16 days ago by taxpaying citizen
taxpaying citizen
16 days ago

Dr. Mike Yeadon- Former Chief Science Officer for Pfizer Says “Second Wave” Faked on False-Positive COVID Tests, “Pandemic is Over.” Interesting interview here and Paper.
Lastly, why the discredited Ferguson model was wrong and replaced by the Gompertz model according to Dr. Michael Levitt, Professor of Structural Biology at the Stanford School of Medicine, and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.” See interview here

taxpaying citizen
16 days ago

Since catholic schools opened in August, I haven’t seen or found any related IFR stats for covid 19 school outbreaks. Anyone have a website or news articles about current outbreaks for catholic schools at the grammar and high school levels?

Last edited 16 days ago by taxpaying citizen
Heyjude
16 days ago

I saw a news article in the Trib last week about St Viator in Arlington H rights going remote because of some positive tests. At least it was a small story and surprisingly not the lead on P 1

Paul
16 days ago

Illinois Dems should have a come to Jesus moment when Trump gets reelected in a landslide. But they won’t. They will wail and snivel like the Wicked Witch melting dragging the whole state down into the dirt.

Defund Democraps
12 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Democraps will excommunicate themselves right into sedition charges.

Illinois Entrepreneur
16 days ago

Does it surprise anyone that Illinois would rather politicize something that gravely affects us, than do the right thing?

By the way, there are billions sitting in a bank account from the feds just waiting to be applied for COVID related expenses. They have the money and they have the means.

So…why? I think everyone knows why. The politics of Orange Man Bad.

I am continually disgusted by this state’s ineptitude, corruption and brass knuckle politicians who don’t give a fig about our true well being.

James
16 days ago

“Does it surprise anyone that Illinois would rather politicize something that gravely affects us, than do the right thing?” Should I suppose that you think the Trump administration doesn’t do likewise? If so, I think you are blind to their horrid ways and means of getting things done. There isn’t a backbone in almost literally anyone in positions of high authority in the national Republican party these days. “Checks and balances” is a lost concept.

Heyjude
16 days ago
Reply to  James

The left has an interesting concept of checks and balances. They want to check anyone who disagrees with them, and consider balance to mean they control everything.

James
16 days ago
Reply to  Heyjude

Again, apparently you are blind to the Trump administration doing precisely the same thing. Its strange how people can be so omniscient and blind simultaneously on the same topic.

Riverbender
15 days ago
Reply to  Heyjude

What else would you expect from the 2 + 2 = 5 group?

James
16 days ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

He does it with every person he hires and fires, wanting advice only from “the best”—people who ideologically see life’s goals and it’s purposes the same way he does. Don’t try telling me that’s not the case.

Riverbender
15 days ago
Reply to  James

Unless I am mistaken this message board is about Illinois and not Federal issues. Please try and stay on topic.

Illinois Entrepreneur
15 days ago
Reply to  James

James, this is a site for Illinois politics. Please stay on topic.

I already know what Democrats think of Trump, and I couldn’t care less.

Please tell me, why did you vote for Pritzker over Rauner?

James
15 days ago

People get “off track” here all the time, and its something of a hobby for folks who frequent this website! In any case, I’m far from alone in doing that on occasion. I voted for Pritzker because I wanted things in IL state government to progress beyond the state of a permanent stalemate. There was no hope of it under a second term for him. That’s not to say I necessarily disagreed with his political goals, but in IL they weren’t going to happen. The state’s economic condition was deteriorating rapidly. I fully realize the current predicament in that matter… Read more »

Illinois Entrepreneur
15 days ago
Reply to  James

Fair enough (on Trump).

But you voted for Pritzker because you wanted to see the party of public unions get complete and total power? You thought that somehow that would change the direction of the “deteriorating economic condition” of the state?

I don’t understand this line of logic. Wouldn’t electing Rauner to a second term have sent a message to the Democrats that reform was demanded by the public and that they should now cooperate?

Regardless, this state was not deteriorating because of Covid. It was because of public unions and Democrats. Covid has just sped things up.

James
15 days ago

I take it that you don’t think I already am aware of every point you’ve made. Well, you’re wrong. I can vote anyway l want, and it doesn’t have to please you. You can do likewise. God bless America!

Mr_Common_Sense
15 days ago
Reply to  James

James, it’s your democrat votes that put Illinois in bankruptcy.
How dumb do you feel?

James
15 days ago

How dumb do you feel trying to shame someone else on how they vote? I’m not you, and you are not me. Get used to it. Try persuasion instead of childish bullying.

True believer
14 days ago
Reply to  James

The disaster that is Illinois is caused 100% by the Democratic scum. James is a Democrat. Go away.

James
14 days ago
Reply to  True believer

I’m here to give you grief. Deal with it.

Ex Illini
16 days ago

By now we should all know how Illinois politics work. Look at the esteemed Speaker of the House, who simply will not work with anyone that does not knuckle under to his demands. He will wait out his advesaries, knowing full well his tiny fiefdom will continue to install him as emperor, while the state sinks further into the fiscal quicksand from which it will never escape. He cares for no one but himself.

Susan
16 days ago

To solve the current healthcare crisis,

And obviate unconscionable provision prices,

We should all each get a medical degree,

And minister alone, to our own malady.

This may present a quandary,

To the juris doc. m.d.,

What will the literal remedy be,

For. a literal personal injury?