Why Neutralizing Antibody Testing is Key to Ending Pandemic Restrictions

By John Munsell,Chief Executive Officer, Bizzuka

Two long and exhausting years into this pandemic, and we all want to know:

When will the pandemic finally end? 

Aren’t most people (at least the adult population) immune to COVID-19 and/or protected from experiencing life-threatening symptoms by now?

What's the key to ending pandemic restrictions?

Here are some insights:

The purpose of the vaccine is to build protective immunity in people.

The vaccine cannot prevent you from contracting the virus, but it can prevent you from becoming seriously ill.

Ensuring protective immunity is the only way we can achieve the goal of reducing serious illness, deaths, and overloading of our medical system.

And if protective immunity is the key to achieving our goal, then we need to recognize it in all forms.

Understanding the two types of immunity

In order to fully comprehend the answer to these questions, you'll first need to understand the two types of immunity: 

  • Natural (antibodies generated through previous infection) and 
  • Vaccinated (antibodies generated via vaccine).

Regardless of how you acquired your immunity, everyone's unique levels of protection will vary based on their own personal immune systems.

A positive PCR test will only tell you if you have COVID or not at the specific point in time that you’ve taken the test. 

A standard antibody test will tell you if you’ve got antibodies, but it won’t tell you the efficacy of those antibodies when it comes to blocking the virus should you become infected. 

So, neither of those tests will tell you how protected you are, and neither will inform your workplace how safe it actually is. And for sure, neither test will let us know as a country how close we are to coming out of this pandemic and ending pandemic restrictions.

Measuring vaccinated and natural immunity

Given this information, how can we measure immunity levels?

Until recently, we've all relied on mass antigen testing to detect whether someone is currently infected with the virus. All this has told us is the estimated number of active infections at any given time and place.

But then again, lots of PCR tests have proven to yield inaccurate results, not everyone gets tested when they're symptomatic, and many are walking around unknowingly with asymptomatic infections.

So, those numbers aren't reliable and can't do much in terms of helping us all stay protected.

We need actionable information in order to put an end to pandemic restrictions.

This information can be rapidly gathered from virus neutralization tests.

What are virus neutralization tests?

Virus neutralization tests are a unique form of antibody test that will not only tell you whether you've been vaccinated or whether you’ve been previously infected, but these tests are designed to tell you the efficacy of your protective immunity.

These are vastly different from standard IgG/IgM antibody tests. According to the FDA, "a positive antibody test can indicate an immune response has occurred (seroconversion), and failure to detect such a response may suggest a lack of immune response."

In other words, IgG/IgM antibody tests will tell you that you’ve had an immune response to either the vaccine or the virus, but they will not tell you the efficacy of your potential virus neutralizing antibodies. 

This is why the FDA advises against using standard antibody tests to determine your level of immunity.

A negative antibody test doesn't necessarily mean you haven't had COVID before. It's very possible that you contracted it at one point and the antibodies have subsided to an undetectable level. Or, it could also mean that you received a bunk test like those from LuSys and Empowered Diagnostics and got a false result.

The FDA has, however, issued an EUA (emergency use approval) for virus neutralization tests and is emphasizing their use and enhancement. Anzu’s patented immunity test uses at its core a surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT), which makes it highly accurate in terms of measuring neutralizing antibody efficacy.

At this point in the pandemic, large-scale virus neutralization testing can and should be used to obtain actionable information that will help us in ending pandemic restrictions.

Rather than focusing on vaccination status as the single measure by which restrictions should be lifted (such as masks, distancing, travel, etc.), measuring the efficacy of individual immunity is far more logical and scientific. 

That would, in turn, lead to a more appropriate allocation of vaccination resources to those that need it the most, instead of wasting a vaccine or booster on someone who clearly demonstrates efficacious immunity. 

That is precisely why the Immunity Profile was created.

That is precisely why the Immunity Profile was created... to give people a look at more than just the presence of antibodies, but to reveal the efficacy of their immune profile.

The Anzu Immunity Profile assay is straightforward. All you’ll need to do is locate your local testing center. You’ll go in for a finger prick or blood draw. Once the nurse opens your test kit, you’ll find a unique barcode inside. You then scan it with your smartphone, and you’ll be prompted to download the free EVE patient app. 

This app is where you’ll register your blood sample, and the results will come to your app directly from the lab in real-time, as it’s processed.

Your results will be displayed in an easy-to-understand manner. If your immunity percentage is in the green zone, you’re good to go. This means you have a high level of neutralizing antibodies and are unlikely to need a booster shot for a while. 

Contrarily, if your percentage is low, your level of protection is insufficient, and you should consider getting a booster shot or starting your vaccine sequence if you haven’t already.

How this data can help

This data is extremely useful in workplaces that are currently struggling with vaccine mandates that put them in the position of having to fire hard-working employees who fail to comply. It can also be helpful when it comes to ending pandemic restrictions.

The Anzu Immunity Management System displays in a HIPAA compliant dashboard the unique, protective immunity level of each employee. That immune protection is a function of neutralizing antibody efficacy, and is independent of whether the employee was vaccinated or might have been previously infected.

On a large scale, this information can help inform government leaders and put in place less restrictive measures by relying on an “immunity passport” rather than a vaccine passport.

immunity check

Because both forms of immunity do wane over time, retesting every 4-6 months will be essential to helping us continue to evolve and work towards returning to normalcy.

The more information we can obtain on how the virus is spreading and how the vaccines are working, the more equipped our world will be to move beyond this pandemic once and for all. 

By utilizing virus neutralization tests and digital systems like the Anzu Immunity Management System and the EVE Patient app, we firmly believe we can return to some sense of normalcy sooner rather than later.

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