A new, rapid blood test that will be able to measure a person’s immunity to COVID-19 could soon be available in the U.S.
The test, created by Mount Sinai Health System researchers, is being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Called dqTACT, the test will provide results in 24 hours, according to the Mount Sinai team.
“The assay we have created has the ability to measure the population’s cellular immunity and broadly test the efficacy of novel vaccines,” said one of the study’s senior authors, Ernesto Guccione, professor of oncological and pharmacological sciences at The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai.
Researchers say the test will help get a more accurate measure of how a body is fighting the novel coronavirus.
“We know that vulnerable populations don’t always mount an antibody response, so measuring T-cell activation is critical to assess the full extent of a person’s immunity,” Guccione said. “Additionally, the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants like omicron, which evade most of the neutralizing ability of antibodies, points to the need for assays that can measure T-cells, which are more effective against emerging variants of concern.”
The activation of T-cells is part of the body’s immune response to an infection or vaccination. T-cells coordinate the immune response to infection and kill cells infected with viruses. It is believed that the cells help protect against severe disease outcomes or death.
The release of antibodies is another way the body responds to infection. While antibodies remain in the body after an infection, their protection against the infection will wane over time.
Based on what happens when either you are infected with the virus or you are vaccinated, how long are you protected from COVID-19?
It’s not easy to say because immunity wanes at different rates for different people. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are thought to be effective for three or four months, then the protection begins to wane. Some researchers believe that T-cells are potentially a more durable source of protection.
The new test can be paired with an antibody test to get an accurate measure of the level of immunity a person has, according to Jordi Ochando, assistant professor of oncological services at the Tisch Cancer Institute and a member of the team that developed the test.
That information will help researchers make “more refined decisions regarding vaccination strategies, especially in high-risk patient groups,” Ochando told Fortune.
©2022 Cox Media Group