American Lung Association: Universal COVID-19 Antibody Testing Urgently Needed

Coordinated, universal testing for both immunity and infection would save lives, prevent a generation of survivors with severely damaged lungs

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented rates of lung infections and deaths in modern history. To save lives and decrease the risk of a generation of survivors with severely damaged lung health, the American Lung Association is calling for the urgent nationwide rollout of coordinated and universal COVID-19 antibody testing.

“The lives of too many have been lost, especially those most vulnerable – the elderly, chronically ill and minority populations. Unfortunately, in addition to the deaths, we may face a generation of those who have recovered from COVID-19, but are permanently burdened with damaged lung health that will affect their productivity, quality of life and likely their longevity,” said American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “To reduce the spread, our nation must act urgently to implement both antibody testing to identify immune individuals and nasal swab tests to identify current infections, in tandem.”

“The more people you can test - both for current infections and the antibodies created by prior infections - the more accurately you can determine who’s safe from the virus and who’s spreading it to others,” said American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer Albert Rizzo, M.D. “This containment effort becomes even more important as mitigation efforts such as social distancing are relaxed. The more you can do that, the more everyone can isolate and stop spreading the virus further to save lives and decrease the post-COVID-19 risk of chronic lung disease.”

The stay-at-home orders, social distancing efforts and the all-out heroics of our front-line and essential workers in the healthcare industry has lessened the dire predictions first made regarding deaths in this country. Yet from the start of the pandemic, the lack of adequate COVID-19 antigen testing made the efforts at containment and tracking difficult. The virus spread unchecked, and with approximately 25% of those infected being minimally symptomatic or asymptomatic, unintentional and unknowing transmission of the virus accelerated the spread.

“There is a significant concern around the push to re-open the economy and send people back into the workforce without a vaccine or specific and effective treatment for COVID-19, especially if the social distancing restrictions are too relaxed or uncoordinated,” said Wimmer. “The American Lung Association calls on our nation’s leaders to immediately implement coordinated and universal COVID-19 testing.”

For more information about COVID-19 and the American Lung Association’s $25M investment in COVID-19 research, visit Journalists interested in scheduling an interview about COVID-19 and the Lung Association’s efforts may contact Stephanie Goldina at 312-801-7629 or [email protected].

For more information, contact:

Elizabeth Cook
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