Congressman Mo Brooks joined a bipartisan letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services as well as the Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority urging that HHS rapidly deploy COVID-19 antibody testing.
“Americans must work for the good of their families, our economy, and our country,” Brooks said. “At the same time, America must minimize or eliminate COVID-19 health risks. Many Americans have beat COVID-19 with minimal or no adverse health effects. They did so with their own COVID-19 antibodies. COVID-19 antibody testing, followed by harvesting of COVID-19 antibodies and injection of them into sick patients, is a very promising, potential COVID-19 treatment and cure. As such, I encourage Secretary Azar and Director Bright to deploy these antibody tests rapidly and widely to help America’s medical profession acquire another weapon in the fight against COVID-19.”
Brooks joined Congressman Bill Foster, D-Illinois, and Congressman Ami Bera, D-California, in leading the bipartisan letter in support of their efforts to encourage innovation in COVID-19 testing, and urging them to rapidly deploy COVID-19 antibody tests that have met accuracy and safety standards as rapidly and widely as possible.
Simple antibody tests have been developed by U.S. companies and have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These serological tests detect the immune system’s response to viral infections, including COVID-19.
These tests can identify people who have already acquired immunity to COVID-19, and who can safely re-enter the workforce, travel and return to normal life.
“It is imperative that the United States does not continue to be behind the curve on COVID-19 testing, including on the antibody testing that will be vital as we eventually restart the economy and which will take place only after a large fraction of the population is confident that they are immune to infection so that it is safe to work, travel, and return to normal life,” Foster said. “It will be an unnecessary economic tragedy if our citizens remain cowering at home because we failed to provide them with the simple, inexpensive means of proving their immunity – the tests should be deployed as rapidly and widely as possible. This must be followed by the ability for individuals to reliably certify that they are immune to COVID-19 so that they can return to normal life – especially for workers in critical industries like healthcare and food.”
“The reality of COVID-19 is that many Americans, especially the younger population, will have gotten the virus without them knowing because either their symptoms were too mild or because tests were not available at the time they got sick,” said Congressman Bera, M.D. “Serological testing is an easy and quick method to check if Americans have acquired COVID-19 immunity. As a doctor and Member of Congress, I strongly urge the Administration to deploy these tests as rapidly and widely as possibly. Serological testing would allow for many Americans to safely re-enter the workforce, providing a boost to our economy.”
The letter was signed by a bipartisan group of 113 Members of Congress.
“Restarting the economy after the coronavirus pandemic will take place only after a large fraction of the population is confident that they are immune to infection so that it is safe to work, travel, and return to normal life,” the letter read. “This will happen when a proven vaccine is widely deployed, but this is likely more than a year away. In the meantime, much of our population, especially the young and minimally symptomatic, will have already acquired immunity to COVID-19, not through vaccination, but by getting infected and recovering. Most of those who recover will not be certain they had COVID-19, either because the symptoms were too mild, or because tests for the virus were unavailable at the time they were infected.”
“Fortunately, a so-called serological test that detect the immune system’s response to a viral infection, including to COVID-19, could provide such a reasonable assurance,” the letter continued. “The simplest serological tests involve a finger-prick to deliver drops of blood to a disposable cartridge which can deliver an answer within minutes. No special equipment is needed, and tests like this could be readily obtained at doctor’s offices or drive-thru test centers. It is imperative that serological tests be rapidly deployed to all Americans, so that the people who have acquired COVID-19 immunity can re-enter the work force and restart the economy.”
“We applaud the FDA for acting rapidly in granting provisional approval of the first of these tests, and BARDA for providing a funding opportunity for ramping up manufacture,” the Congressmen went on. “It is now vital that the U.S. does not drop the ball on coronavirus antibody testing since it tells us who can safely return to work. It will be an unnecessary economic tragedy if our citizens remain cowering at home because we failed to provide them with the simple, inexpensive means of proving their immunity. Each one of these inexpensive test kits can add many thousands of dollars to GDP by allowing someone who has recovered from COVID-19 to return to the productive economy.”
As of press time, 9,620 Americans have died from COVID-19. 336,851 Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, which is caused by a strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Only 17,977 of these have fully recovered. Of those suffering, 8,206 are in serious or critical condition. In Alabama, 1,841 have contracted the illness and 45 have died; while another 231 are hospitalized. 20 Alabamians have recovered from the illness.
Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.