Large Russian laboratories have suspended quantitative tests for antibodies to the RBD domain to the S-protein of the coronavirus – not only in Moscow, but also in the regions. This is the most popular and indicative test from the point of view of specialists – it can be used to determine the degree of protection, including from the Indian strain of covid.
Laboratories do not have enough reagents to conduct tests. As the BBC correspondent was told on the hotline of the CMD laboratory, antibody testing will resume “at best in early July, at worst in mid-July.”
The first to report the shortage of reagents and the suspension of tests for 7-10 days in “Invitro” on Friday 25 June. In an interview with RBC, they added that due to the explosive demand for tests, they had to transfer all laboratory complexes to round-the-clock work, purchase new equipment and introduce additional shifts in laboratories.
Later it became known that there were not enough reagents in other laboratories. One of the registrars of test systems anonymously told the BBC that “the first batch of reagents ran out and did not manage to register and bring a new batch.”
In addition to “Invitro”, the test was temporarily stopped in KDL, and information about it disappeared from the LabQuest laboratory website.
The BBC was unable to contact the Citilab and Gemotest laboratories, they did not answer calls and messages in instant messengers. There is still a test on the laboratories' websites.
The BBC's DNAome laboratory confirmed these tests were carried out. In this institution, it costs the most: 3075 rubles, including blood sampling. For comparison, in the KDL laboratory, this test cost 1000 rubles, together with a blood sample (in Moscow).
Why are missing tests important?
The test for IgG antibodies to the RBD domain of the S-protein of coronavirus on the Abbott test system (USA) is currently considered the most indicative in terms of protection against the virus.
“It acts in a targeted manner, detecting antibodies with the greatest potential to neutralize the coronavirus,” Ancha Baranova, Doctor of Biological Sciences, professor at the School of Systems Biology at George Mason University (USA) and director of the Center for the Study of Rare Diseases and Metabolic Disorders at the College of Science told the BBC George Mason University.
1300 antibodies on this scale and above indicate good protection, including against the delta strain. But if less than 500 – you need to be vaccinated, says Baranova. The interval between these values indicates that when you encounter a virus, you are likely to get sick. The BBC talked about vaccinations for the ill and revaccinations.
Each test recognizes a different spectrum of antibodies. First generation tests are made to determine the N-protein, which shows a positive result after a previous illness. It does not give any information about protection, since so far scientists do not know anything about the correlation of antibodies to this protein with real protection. After vaccination with Sputnik, this test will not show antibodies.
Other antibody tests are more difficult to interpret from a defensive point of view, as they place less emphasis on neutralizing antibodies. Analyzes on different test systems cannot be compared with each other, since it is not known which part of the protein was analyzed.
There is no replacement for the missing test, but there are alternatives. Before the appearance of the Abbott test for the RBD domain, experts advised taking the Italian Liason test from DiaSorin. For a long time, it was considered the most accurate. “On his scale from 15 to 400, a result of 200-300 is considered very good,” Ancha Baranova told the BBC. “But now this test is already a thing of the past.”
The test on the DiaSorin test system at Invitro also cannot be submitted until July 7th. The BBC Russian service was unable to reach the Helix laboratory, which also makes tests on the DiaSorin system. Two versions of the test have not disappeared from the site. The Explana lab has confirmed the availability of tests.
What is the reason for the shortage of tests
The test interruptions occurred on the eve of strict measures imposed by the Moscow authorities. From June 28, to visit the restaurant, you will need to provide a choice of:
- negative PCR test done no later than three days ago;
- analysis for antibodies, if had been ill no more than six months ago;
- QR code issued after vaccination.
Due to the rush of demand, most laboratories have increased the timing of other analyzes – they are now done within five days.
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Since June 18, in the capital, at least 60% of employees in the service and catering sectors have been obliged to vaccinate. The remaining 40% will include those who have temporary medical assignments, who have recovered from illness and other workers at the discretion of the organizations themselves.
According to the decision of the authorities, the employer will be obliged to suspend the employee who refused the vaccination from work. During the suspension, the employee is not paid a salary, and the missed working time is not included in the length of service, which gives the right to annual paid leave. If the requirement for the number of vaccinated employees is not met, the employer faces a suspension of work for 90 days.