According to a study, doctors could use a blood test that measures the body's immune response to determine how protected a person is against Covid-19.
This test, which examines the immune system that confers protection over long-term by prompting the body "remember" the virus, may help to understand the complicated web of Covid immunity, which can vary from one person to the next.
This test can be used to measure immunity, regardless of whether someone is protected from natural infections, vaccines, or booster shots. Other people, such as those with lower levels of immunity due to immunocompromised status, may also be able to use the test to determine their vulnerability and how they respond to vaccines. Ernesto Guccione is an associate professor of oncological science and pharmacological sciences at Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai.
Guccione, one the researchers of the study, said that it would give him a complete picture of where he stands and an overall picture of his immune protection.
According to the researchers, they will be focusing next on clinical trials to get approvals from the Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency.
A small amount of blood is taken at a clinic to be tested. The virus protein snippets are then added to the mixture. The researchers then check to see if any of the so-called "T cells" are activated in this sample.
T cells are the foundation of the immune system's memory. They usually wait to detect foreign invaders. T cells are able to recall viruses years and sometimes even decades later than antibody levels.
T cells can be primed to "recall fragments of viruses, even variants that are resistant to protective antibodies, whether they have been infected or vaccinated. Although T cells can't prevent an infection from occurring, they can help to prevent severe illness from Covid.
Although previous studies showed that T cells could recognize all known variants of concern (including omicron), Guccione stated that it is still an area of active research. Scientists are still refining the test and studying how T cells respond to different variants.
He said that the data so far were very encouraging. "The good news about the virus is that many proteins are immune to it, and some of them don't tend to become mutated by variants.
Guccione stated that T cell tests have been limited to research labs and are often expensive and time-consuming. He said that the new kit can be used by many people and delivered results in as little as 24 hours.
He said that while more research is required, the results are comparable to similar tests in research laboratories.
The current test is able to detect activation of T cells. However, researchers hope that future versions will be more precise, according to Jordi Olando, an assistant professor in oncological sciences at Icahn School for Medicine at Mount Sinai, and one of the study's co-authors.
He said, "To see the degree of T cell immunity intensity and have it correlated with protection -- that's not yet at that level." "But we hope that we will be at some point."
Future iterations might, for instance, be able provide information on the severity and duration of an individual's immunity against Covid.
Ochando stated that each test runs for about $50, but that it is possible that licensing companies could add a markup to the price.