WASHINGTON: The US authorised pharmacies on Wednesday (Apr 8) to carry out tests for the coronavirus, including newly developed antibody tests that detect whether a person who has recovered from illness had COVID-19.

Health secretary Alex Azar, announced that all tests approved by regulators could be carried out by pharmacies as the country seeks to ramp up its testing efforts.

READ: US COVID-19 deaths exceed 14,600, second-highest in world after Italy

“The Trump Administration is pleased to give pharmacists the chance to play a bigger role in the COVID-19 response, alongside all of America’s heroic healthcare workers,” he said.

A nasal swab test can detect whether a person currently has the coronavirus.

After they have recovered, a test that looks at whether their body developed antibodies that fought off the virus and can be used – even if the person never showed symptoms.

There are different kinds of antibody tests and they can’t yet tell whether a person has sufficient antibodies to be protected against future infection.

READ: US nurses who can’t get tested fear they are spreading COVID-19

A Chinese study posted this week, but not yet peer-reviewed, showed that some former patients had relatively low levels of antibodies in the blood.

In Washington on Wednesday, a private medical center announced that it was offering a 15-minute serology test, at a cost of US$290.

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