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San Diego biotech company develops test to measure COVID-19 immunity

Johnson & Johnson says it's identified a 'lead candidate' for COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 1:33 PM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 16:33:02-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Between the delta variant and the news about booster shots, San Diegans may be wondering just how protected they are if they've been vaccinated.

A San Diego biotech company is looking into whether individuals need a booster shot with a new test that aims to show if a fully vaccinated person is protected at all levels.

"In 10 minutes, it can tell you what your levels of neutralizing antibodies are," said Axim Biotechnologies CEO John Huemoeller.

The Sorrento Valley healthcare company has created a rapid test that will measure a person's immunity level to the COVID-19 virus using just a drop of blood.

"It tells you whether you have high levels of neutralizing antibodies, medium levels, low levels, or no levels. Again neutralizing antibodies will block the virus from entering into your cells," said Huemoeller.

Huemoeller said the company is currently running a clinical study and following individuals' immunity levels before and after getting the vaccines.

They're noticing a booster shot may be needed sooner rather than later.

"We're noticing the levels of neutralizing antibodies begin to drop off after a couple of months. Everyone is different, so some people maintain higher levels, and for a longer period but in general, there's a bell curve and after a period of time we don't have many neutralizing antibodies," Huemoeller said.

Huemoeller added that researchers have also seen cases where antibodies have dropped off and then spiked up again.

"There's only one way that that happens without a booster, they came in contact with the virus. They didn't even feel it. They were asymptomatic. Were they contagious and gave it to somebody who has not been vaccinated? The jury is still out," said Huemoeller.

Axim Biotechnologies hopes to have their rapid tests available in clinics in the near future. As of right now, they're waiting on an emergency use approval from the FDA.

This is still an early area of research. Scientists are trying to determine what level of antibodies are needed to stay protected from the virus, and a natural decline in antibodies is normal. The vaccines also produce other cells that could help protect against illness.