FRANKLIN (CBS) – Researcher Gregory Chiklis has spent the duration of the pandemic running antibody tests in his Franklin lab, MRN Diagnostics. He has tested hundreds of first responders who were exposed to coronavirus in towns west of Boston.
“We’ve gone back now and tested their spouses or their partners, in a couple of cases we tested their children who are over 18, and in no cases have we seen that person spread the virus to their family members,” said Chiklis.
His findings echo something the World Health Organization is now dialing back on after a controversial comment Monday. “It appears to be rare that an asymptomatic individual transmits onward,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit. A day later, she clarified. “That’s a big open question, and that remains an open question,” she said.
In a news conference Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker expressed skepticism. “I continue to believe that…people who are asymptomatic, are absolutely capable of spreading the infection,” he said.
Dr. Chiklis said it’s still early, but the more tests he runs, the more confident he is in his findings. “If you’re symptomatic and you’re draining from your nose…you’re highly infectious,” he said. “But what we’re learning about this virus, is it’s more about identifying who has symptoms and who is sick, so we can identify those folks, and we can contact trace with those folks, so we can keep them from getting other people sick.”
Dr. Chiklis says his antibody testing research also shows immunity seems to get stronger with time among people who test positive. He says every time he retests local first responders, they show higher levels of antibodies.