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Low levels of antibodies offer a warning of continued COVID-19 risks

Earlier this week, Chautauqua County health officials reported less than three percent of residents who have been tested are showing a presence of antibodies.  "Low level of the antibodies means not many people have had this disease and, therefore, they don't have potential immunity," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, the former president of the American Medical Association who has been discussing COVID-19 issues every Thursday with WBFO. "So, that means the majority of the population is still susceptible."

Earlier tests conducted by New York State indicated a seven percent presence of antibodies in Erie and Niagara counties.

"This is a very different virus and we have to really be careful," said Nielsen who currently serves as the Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

"This isn't the old days when parents used to have their kids have chicken pox parties or mumps parties where they put all the kids together."

Nielsen has been answering questions from listeners and adding context to many of the issues that have emerged throughout the pandemic.  One listener wondered if the nasal swabs used to test for the coronavirus ever produce "false negative" results. Yes was the answer.

"We've known that from the beginning." The test samples need to be taken properly, Nielsen pointed out.

"The early tests from China on the nasal swabs reported an accuracy of only 70 percent. That's not true in this country. We're getting about 90 percent."

Nielsen urges the public to remain disciplined moving forward. She maintains social distancing and masks have worked to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"Don't be get caught up in the political theater that we see waging across the country where you have criticism of  'Well, the data is being manipulated in Florida and Georgia.' Don't listen to that," Nielsen said.

"We do have to be careful and can't be cavalier."


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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.