April 20, 2020
To: All Domestic Employees
From: Pandemic Working Group
Re: COVID-19: Antibody Testing ~ Federal Reopening Table ~ FEMA Cloth Masks ~ MLB
As reported in prior issues, various regions have been conducting antibody tests through blood samples to determine how much of the population has been infected by the coronavirus (whether or not they were ever symptomatic). In Gangelt, Germany, for example, researchers found that 15% of the population had had the virus, while, on the basis of a sampling in Santa Clara County, California, 4.2% of the population had been infected. Underlying this interest in the antibody test is the notion that persons who have been exposed may be immune to the virus and, if they can be identified, should be able to return to the workplace. With the recent issuance of reopening guidelines by the White House (shown in our pictogram below), state governors are even more motivated to have antibody testing done promptly.
According to Fiercebiotech.com, the FDA, CDC and NIH are collaborating to evaluate these diagnostic products and their accuracy. Courtesy of New York Times, a typical such test kit is shown to the left. While FDA has granted emergency use authorizations to nearly 100 products (mostly from China), manufacturers must now provide data to the agency, so that hospitals and labs have some assurance that the agency has reviewed the products. As reported yesterday by the New York Times (and earlier in the month by Oxford University), however, many of the products being commercialized vary greatly in reliability. The most reliable tests involve a laboratory technique called ELISA that report on the patient’s level of antibodies. At the same time, researchers are also trying to establish what level of antibodies would ensure the patient is immune from further infection. In short, there is much work being done to commercialize reliable antibody test kits. We will continue to follow this issue closely in the coming weeks.
Federal Reopening Guidelines Made Easy
Last week, we reported on the “Opening Up America Again” guidelines announced by White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx. Below, we have tried to capture the essence of those guidelines in a single table. As mentioned above, testing is an essential feature to the gating criteria.
FEMA Offering Cloth Face Coverings
This just in. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that the Chemical sector (of which AMVAC is part, as per the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Administration guidelines) is eligible to receive anti-microbial, reusable, cloth face coverings for employees to wear, as per current CDC recommendations. With the cooperation of CropLife America, AMVAC has priority access to these masks at no charge. We have requested 500 of these face coverings from FEMA and will distribute to our employees in the near future.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame?
The Wall Street Journal reports that a plan is afoot to host major league baseball games without spectators in one location (potentially Arizona) in multiple “biodome” stadiums. The plan has considerable logistical complexity, as staging a single major league game typically requires over 1,000 people, including players, coaches, umpires, cameramen, security guards and doctors. For their protection as well as that of their families, players would be housed in nearby hotels and tested every week. Even Dr. Fauci seems to be on board with the concept, as he was quoted as saying, “People say, ‘Well, you can’t play without spectators.’ Well, I think you probably get enough buy-in from people who are dying to see a baseball game, particularly me.”
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COVID-19 Avisory: Antibody Testing ~ Federal Reopening Table ~ FEMA Cloth Masks ~ MLB