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Audacia Bio on the AM800's The Shift with Patty Handysides

There have been nearly 4.3 million COVID-19 cases in Canada since the beginning of the pandemic, but there are many people out there who may not know or believe they've ever contracted the virus.

A new antibody testing tool for COVID-19 is now available in Windsor, which costs $20 per, and can tell people not only if they've had the disease before but if they've been vaccinated against it they can see how much immunity they have remaining.

Dr. Phillip Olla from Audacia Bioscience says the key thing right now is analyzing the community to make sure people are protected, because based on the transmissibility of the last strain of the virus it's likely that most people will contract it at some point.

Dr. Olla says how sick people get after the fact depends on what levels of antibodies they have in their body.

"Being able to check your antibodies to see whether you got it, and you did know you got it, and you have antibodies so you're protected is good," he continued.

"Or also to see if you have been vaccinated and over time you do lose the immunity from that vaccine but how much do you have left in the tank is a very important question."

He says it's very simple for people to use, as they just take a finger prick and put the drop of blood into a small container.

Dr. Olla says if the test shows two dots, that means a person has antibodies and a level of protection against COVID-19.

"And if you have that protection then if you did get COVID-19 your symptoms wouldn't be as bad as if you had seen one dot on the test, which means you have no antibodies. It's very simple and it takes 60 seconds to get results. So within 60 seconds you would know whether you're protected from severe outcomes from COVID," he said.

Research is showing that the longest period of time that they can detect antibodies that are useful is about a year, but Dr. Olla says different people lose their antibodies at different periods.

He says tests like these could help those who are still on the fence about getting vaccinated, or updating their current vaccines, because it shows exactly how much protection they have against serious outcomes.

Dr. Olla says vaccines do help reduce the symptoms of COVID-19 and protect against hospitalization but over time that protection wanes.

"It's really important to time your vaccine boost when you're low on antibodies and not when you're high on antibodies. Because if you only get vaccinated every so often, and you don't want to take it all the time, so you really want to make sure that you start being smart with your vaccination strategy."

More information on antibody testing can be found on Audacia Bioscience's website.

- with files from AM800's The Shift with Patty Handysides

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