The coronavirus test that might exempt you from social distancing -- if you pass

How fast is it?

You can get results from a serological test in just minutes. Many groups are working on versions that can be run at home, with no need to send samples to a lab. A PCR test takes hours to run, and because samples must typically be shipped back and forth from the testing site, patients usually don’t get results for at least several days (although the FDA is fast-tracking a portable point-of-care genetic test for coronavirus that’s supposed to take less than 15 minutes).

Who’s working on this?

Many, many groups. Singapore, China, and other countries have already conducted limited numbers of antibody testing. A group led by virologist Florian Krammer at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City recently developed an ELISA-based antibody test for covid-19. American companies like Biomerica and Chembio Diagnostics (from New York) are selling antibody tests outside the US, with aggressive plans to get these kits up to snuff for FDA approval. BioMedomics of North Carolina, in collaboration with medical tech company BD, just launched a point-of-care test that can be administered at the doctor’s office and give results in 15 minutes. The UK has its own test, developed by Public Health England, and recently ordered 3.5 million kits to be distributed by Amazon and pharmacies around the country in just a matter of days.