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Letters to the Editor: No, flawed coronavirus antibody studies don’t mean we can reopen

Coronavirus antibody test
A drive-thru coronavirus antibody testing site in North Hollywood.
(Kit Karzen)

To the editor: I am perplexed by the coverage of the USC and L.A. County COVID-19 blood antibody study, which had significant flaws.

Public policy professor Neil Sood and his colleagues at USC bypassed all the usual rigors of scientific review and went straight to the media with their findings. Their survey included 863 adults chosen from a database maintained not by an academic institution, but rather by a marketing firm, and the participants needed to drive to a testing site at a time when many people might have been afraid to do so.

The wide generalization made by the authors is what is truly galling. Sood suggests, “We might have to recalibrate disease prediction models and rethink public health strategies.” This is irresponsible and dangerous messaging when the world has experienced more the 2.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 180,000 deaths.

There is a rationale for the scientific peer-review processes. It is slow, it is arduous, and it is painful for a reason. The public needs to demand better — from our testing, from our researchers and from our public health officials.

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Philip Bretsky, MD, Santa Monica

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To the editor: Results from both of the recent Los Angeles County and Santa Clara County antibody studies suggest that the real fatality rate from COVID-19 infections could be between 0.1% and 0.2%, which is close to the seasonal flu death rate.

Given this information, shouldn’t there be an urgent, massive and random antibody testing effort to validate these results? And, if the results are similar, shouldn’t we end the shutdown?

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Glynn Morris, Playa del Rey


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