An easy-to-use test that was researched by US researchers can estimate the level of immune defence against COVID-19 that an individual has, whether that defence comes from vaccination, infection, or a mix of both.
The researchers added that easy access to this kind of test could assist people in deciding what protective measures against COVID-19 infection they should take, such as receiving an additional booster dose.
The test, which targets SARS-CoV-2, is described in the journal Cell Reports Methods. It assesses the quantity of antibodies that neutralise SARS-CoV-2 and protect cells from the virus.
"Among the general public, many people certainly want to know how well protected they are," said Hojun Li from the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the US.
But according to Li, "where this test might make the largest difference is for anyone who is taking chemotherapy, anyone who is on immunosuppressive medications for rheumatologic illnesses or autoimmune diseases, and for anyone who is elderly or doesn't mount good immune responses generally."
To achieve adequate protection, such individuals may need to be boosted earlier or given greater doses, the researchers found. The test is made to allow for the substitution of various viral spike proteins, which aid in the virus's ability to enter and infect cells.
This enables the detection of immunity against any current or future SARS-CoV-2 strain, the researchers said. The researchers are aiming to collaborate with a diagnostic firm that could produce the devices and apply for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration after they have submitted a patent application for the technology (FDA).