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Stanford made COVID-19 tests available for health care workers. Now, it's considering wider distribution

Original post made on Apr 15, 2020

As the scientific community races to create tests for COVID-19 and end the shutdown, Stanford University is trying to speed up the production of its new antibody test, which was made available to its health care workers last week.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 9:00 AM

Comments (22)

Posted by Art
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Making testing widely available is the first key factor; the second is insuring that the tests are accurate. If everyone is able to be tested and the test results are accurate, I could envisage much of normalcy returning to our lives, even going to my dentist's office: - my dentist could perform procedures only on patients who have negative Covid-19 tests. Those testing positive would have to go to hospitals, where higher level of infection control measures are in place. The advantage of the Stanford tests appears to be the low false negative results. Until now, it's been unclear how (in)accurate the tests have been. Many folks have been ending up in hospitals these past months with negative tests even when all signs point to COVID-19. Dr. Yvonne Maldonado is quoted as saying in the story that she "believes" the negative predictive value of the Stanford test is between 95% and 99%. But we need more than belief - we need Stanford to show some real data.

Posted by scjeff
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Response to Art:
The test in this article is an antibody test. Still an important piece to the puzzle but it won't do what you're proposing.

Posted by More Info
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 15, 2020 at 6:55 pm

Please provide a link/website with information on how to participate in antibody tests. Does anyone have that?

Posted by Experimentalist
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 15, 2020 at 9:20 pm

Eran Bendavid endangered the lives of his student volunteers, and wasted our time so that he could play a hunch that a rapid test might work. Well, it looks like it hasn't:

"Bendavid said the tests somewhat understate the number of cases, a factor that the team is adjusting for in the research project."

The is poor experimental science. We have good, sensitive, ELISA based tests (not the tests that were administered). He could have tested a smaller population and gotten a more definitive answer on how many people were sick in Jan/Feb. But now it looks like we won't have any definitive answers at all, and we've wasted time and endangered the lives of our volunteers. Blah.

Posted by Bev
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2020 at 9:59 pm

Thank you Stanford for all you do to help and heal our communities! Antibody tests for all! For all you testing haters, the main reason the healthcare community have done so few tests, even though labs have the materials and capability to do thousands more a day, is our our County Health Dept. put strict guidelines on who you could test and who you couldn’t. Our Public Government officials are the ones restricting testing to keep the death rates high.....wonder why?

Posted by Jen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2020 at 10:09 pm

It will be interesting to see shortly, how many people in the Bay Area had this and recovered without any symptoms.

Posted by WHO
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2020 at 10:14 pm

So the Negative Predictive Value of 95%-99% tells us who has NOT been infected at a reasonably accurate rate. How about the Positive Predictive Value, as we are looking to find how many people HAVE been infected and have antibodies, and hopefully immunity. If "only" 95% PPV, and we find a 10% positive test rate, half of those could be false positives?

Posted by Sue
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2020 at 10:18 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Obvious
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 16, 2020 at 12:14 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2020 at 10:54 am

There are about 7.5M people in the greater San Francisco Bay area. Stanford’s current testing capacity is about 3,500 people a week. At that rate, it would take 535 months to test the Bay Area’s population just once.

This whole idea of “scaling up” is obviously key to providing massive testing, which the Governor has specified as one of the criteria for opening up the state.

The following is a quick look at how long it would take to test just Bay Area--

Daily Weeks
-------- -------
10,000 107
20,000 53
30,000 34
40,000 26
50,000 23

The article says that Stanford is using robots to run its tests. In order to scale up this testing of all of California (and the US), a large number of robots will have to be purchased and installed in new facilities, which will need to be acquired, either through sale/lease and then outfitted for testing.

All-in-all, this project would seem to soon be out of Stanford’s ability to handle.

Clearly, a lot of money and organizational expertise will be needed to get this testing performed.

Posted by Stacy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:16 am

Stanford isn’t the only ones with the antibody test. Harvard is also doing antibody testing and there are other companies mass producing antibody tests. Testing is NOT necessary to open the economy, doctors offices, dentists, retail etc. There is no science to the fact if you test positive you will or will not spread COVID. It is actually more likely as most positive people still spread it to their family BECAUSE of the stay at home order. The economy needs to open with required face covering and required hand sanitizer at front door.

Posted by someone
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:20 am

There was a good article in WSJ about what is lacking in current medical education - doctors who can't even read simple statistical observations:
Web Link

Posted by American
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:39 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by AV
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:50 am

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases launched a clinical trial.

Web Link

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2020 at 12:17 pm

The News-Corp-owned climate-science-denying WSJ article is behind a paywall. But, the lead-in gives you an idea: "Doctors should learn to fight pandemics, not injustice."

That should not be an either/or. I agree that doctors should learn statistics, and, how to fight pandemics. They should also feel free to fight injustice, which they generally do. A large number of doctors treat the rich and poor alike, and, I applaud them for that. Too bad the WSJ is so dedicated to the preservation of injustice that it can't see beyond that.

Posted by someone
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 12:50 pm

@Anon, If you look at the current medical school admission criteria, you will be surprised - SOMs want to mainly admit students who played Social Justice card during their undergraduate years. They want students who pad their resumes with Social Justice Warriors (SJW) activities. This is very sad. A physician should be quickly diagnosed and treat you - for that they need to admit the best and brightest. The new policies of medical school admissions discourage many of the best and brightest to even apply to medical schools. I'm not saying SJW is bad - it is actually needed. But that role should be given to social workers. Or, at least there should be a balance in the admission criteria for medical schools.

Posted by LAHS Parent
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:08 pm

Many of us participated in Dr. Bendavid's study and were told we'd be contacted if positive for antibodies within a week. As far as I know, no one has been contacted and it has been 2 weeks since the test. What is going on?

Posted by someone else
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 16, 2020 at 4:18 pm

@someone People want doctors who look like them. Of course in the bay area, people want the best and brightest because that's how people perceive themselves ;) More seriously, diversity in admissions to medical school will lead to better public health outcomes: Web Link

Posted by Connie
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 7:24 pm

I took my Serology blood work test today. I had called my doctor and we talked about why. Then she asked, who pays for this, I said my insurance sent me a letter saying they will pay for anything required for covid19.

I checked and looks like at least 3 days for results. This serology test is a blood draw test. Not a swab in the mouth,,or pin prick of the finger. If you want one, call your doctor and request one while there is no lines. I was in and out in 10 minutes today.

Posted by Daniel Wood
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2020 at 7:49 pm

I got my yearly cold in Dec. In early Feb when to Subway and cashier had sniffles. Two days later sore throat and thought "I never get two colds a year". Soon after came down with perhaps worst cold ever. Must have been very contagious. My wife doesn't catch my colds but caught this and it was also bad. Took many weeks to feel good again. Over 60 with some health issues.

Microsoft employee with excellent health care through PAMF. PAMF might have the antibody test in a few weeks. I certainly want to see if we did have this.

Posted by scientific critical thinking
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2020 at 12:31 pm

The title of the article states "COVID19 tests" but the content is about "antibody" tests. They are different, and for different purposes.
We need widespread COVID19 tests , which is not available.
This article is misleading in that respect.

Posted by Jay T
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Is the IgG they were looking for unique to Covid-19? Their conclusion that the actual number of infected population is 50-85 times higher than the positive test result is wildly inconsistent with the 11% positive rate from the existing method.
The individuals who received the tests are almost hand picked and yet the positive rate is only around 11%. If the actual infected rate is "2.5-4.2 percent" as they suggested, then the old test should yield at least 20-40%.

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