Testing a new COVID-19 test

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GeekWire editor Todd Bishop: On a cold, clear weekday morning last month, my quest to figure out whether I had COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic took me to my back porch, where a mobile phlebotomist drew my blood. It had been 10 months since I was sick, and I had already received a negative result on a standard antibody test.

That earlier test was designed to detect the presence of the antibodies produced by the body’s immune system to ward off the virus that causes COVID-19. The negative result meant I probably didn't have COVID back in March. But given the possibility of a false negative in the antibody test, I wasn’t giving up that easily. And this test was different.

This was a first-of-its kind diagnostic tool from Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies, a company that develops technology to sequence the human immune system for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. T-cells are specialized cells that determine the human immune system’s response to disease.

Adaptive says tell-tale signs of T-cell responses to specific diseases can be detected earlier and longer than antibody responses, and with a higher degree of accuracy.

Adaptive Biotechnologies’ new test, called T-Detect COVID, was developed in partnership with Microsoft officially launched this week, under CLIA Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments federal regulations. The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the T-Detect COVID test for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The test costs $150 plus lab fees.

On this episode of the GeekWire Health Tech Podcast, we’ll talk with Lance Baldo, Adaptive's chief medical officer, to learn exactly how this test works, and what it could mean for diagnosing and treating a wide range of diseases. And yes, I’ll finally learn almost definitely, whether I had COVID or not.

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