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Solving COVID

Newly FDA-approved T-cell test could be big improvement over COVID-19 antibody screens

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday granted emergency use authorization to a first-of-its-kind T-cell test, which is aimed at detecting previous coronavirus infections.

Currently, antibody tests serve as the primary means for determining whether someone had COVID-19, but accuracy levels vary, and studies have shown antibody levels wane after a few months, which means the timing of the test is key. T-cells, another component of the body's immune system, generally have a longer memory, making them a strong candidate to provide people with a more reliable answer about past infections.

The test, which was launched by biotech firm Adaptive, reportedly involves extracting via T-cell DNA via blood draw. The DNA is then sequenced with Microsoft's artificial intelligence that will, ABC News reports, map out "the immune system's 'massive black box' data into navigable science."

Per ABC News, researchers are hopeful the T-cell test will be particularly useful for so-called COVID-19 longhaulers, who are still experiencing symptoms long after supposedly recovering from the virus. "The T-cell test has been really useful in this long tail of COVID to help patients establish where they are," William Li, the president of the Angiogenesis Foundation, told ABC News.

The test won't be cheap, however. It comes with a $150 out-of-pocket price tag. Read more at ABC News.