Americans will have a coronavirus antibody test ‘very soon,’ Pence says


US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 6, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday that the United States is expected to have an antibody test “very soon” that will determine whether somebody has been exposed to the coronavirus.

“More than 2.1 million tests have been performed and we continue to work very, very closely with FDA and suppliers around the country to expand the ability of testing,” Pence said at a White House press briefing, addressing the development of coronavirus testing in the country.

“Very soon, we will have an antibody test,” he said, “and Americans will be able to take to determine whether they ever had the coronavirus.”

But Pence cautioned Americans to continue following the social distancing guidelines put in place by the White House and local and state officials. 

“There is hope in this moment that thanks to what the American people are doing every day: adhering to the president’s coronavirus guidelines,” he said at the press briefing.

“We’re getting there, America. We’re making progress. But it’s imperative that we all continue to implement all the guidance in the 30 days to slow the spread.”

World Health Organization officials also suggested on Friday that it’s important for the world to continue taking precautions as they have been in recent weeks. The pandemic appears to be slowing in countries like Spain, Italy, France and Germany, they said, but lifting stay-at-home orders too soon could lead to a “deadly resurgence.”

President Donald Trump, when asked if he had taken an antibody test, said he’s “had some tests” but has not yet been given an antibody test. 

“That will come out. They just developed those tests,” Trump added, echoing Pence.

Testing capacity in the United States has been increasing after a much-criticized government roll-out of the tests. In recent weeks, governors have repeatedly asked the White House for more support to handle the outbreak in their individual states. 

The news about the antibody test comes just as the number of deaths caused by the coronavirus topped 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, doubling the number of deaths from last week.

But New York, the hardest-hit state in the United States in terms of confirmed cases, saw negative net change in intensive care admissions on Thursday for the first time since the coronavirus crisis began, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

The coronavirus has spread to dozens of countries globally, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 97,200 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 466,396 cases in the United States and at least 16,703 deaths, according to the latest tallies.

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