Nashville’s testing sites are now adding a fifth symptom to the list of what they look for in determining the need for a coronavirus test.
Health officials say they are “following the science” as new information about the coronavirus informs public health decisions.
During Metro’s daily briefing, health chief Alex Jahangir said that 90 percent of COVID-19 cases present with fever, cough and shortness of breath. On Monday, Jahangir added unexplained loss of smell to that list. Now, public health officials are considering unexplained onset of diarrhea among symptoms of the coronavirus.
The presence of these symptoms is used to determine whether an individual needs to be tested for COVID-19.
James Hildreth of Meharry Medical College also took the briefing as an opportunity to dispel myths that the presence of antibodies related to the coronavirus implies immunity.
Antibodies combine with viruses in the body to help fight infection. These antibodies can remain weeks after the virus has been cleared and can therefore be used to test for infection. However, Hildreth emphasized, there is currently no proof that having antibodies means you’re immune to COVID-19.
“It would be a huge mistake for us to assume that the presence of antibodies can be equated with immunity. That’s going to require some research and science, and thankfully that’s already happening,” he said.
Currently, Vanderbilt is among many research centers in the country working with plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to better understand the power of antibodies in fighting the coronavirus infection.