WALL, NJ — Assemblyman Edward Thomson plans to introduce legislation establishing COVID-19 antibody testing to see how many residents have already contracted the disease — a vital step in what he hopes will be the start of efforts to reopen the state’s economy.

“Antibody tests are key to resuming close to normal life because it could determine whether enough people have immunity to protect those who haven't contracted the virus,” said Thomson (R-Monmouth), who represented the 30th District, which includes Belmar and Lake Como.

“As it becomes available, we need to use this tool to begin reopening the state safely and restarting our economy,” he added.

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Antibodies are the body’s way of remembering how it responded to an infection so it can fight the virus again.

RELATED: Plasma Donations from Recovered COVID-19 Patients Needed to Help New Jersey’s Critically Ill

While Gov. Phil Murphy has spoken frequently about testing in general, he has offered little in the way of specifics on utilizing antibody testing to learn more about the scope of the pandemic and about potential immunity, according to a Thomson spokesman.

Testing will help health experts better assess how many people have contracted COVID-19 and developed antibodies that may make them immune to reinfection or spreading the virus. It works by using blood samples to isolate antibodies. If a patient has coronavirus antibodies, they would be found in the blood sample, according to a press release by his legislative office.

Thomson’s proposed bill would require the state Health Department to conduct antibody testing or contract it out to a company. Results would be analyzed and published on the department’s website.

“Every day the state is closed our residents’ and business owners’ struggles are multiplied and New Jersey gets closer to economic collapse,” said Thomson, who is expected to introduce the measure on May 4, barring any changes to the schedule and bill introduction process during the coronavirus crisis. “We need to get the infrastructure in place to begin widespread testing so we can end this shutdown as soon as possible.”

More than 90 companies have developed antibody tests and New York state recently began a widespread testing program of antibodies, according to Thomson’s release.

 

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