Exclusive: Bill Cassidy Details How to Use Mass Immunity Testing to Reopen Society

Healthcare worker put a test swab into a container after swabbing the driver at a newly opened drive-through COVID-19 testing site at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition center, Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Thursday about his proposal to reopen society and “reactivate the economy” through extensive coronavirus immunity testing.

The Food and Drug Administration recently granted its first emergency authorization for a rapid blood antibody test, which would allow scientists to determine a patient’s immune response to the coronavirus.

The antibody test, otherwise known as a serological test, uses a few drops of blood drawn from a vein to detect antibodies produced by the body to fight off the coronavirus. Doctors and public health officials could use this test to identify a person who had been previously infected and potentially recovered.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said this week that doctors and public health officials could use serological tests to determine who is “no longer susceptible to infection and can return to work.”

Cassidy, a Louisiana State University (LSU) trained doctor, expounded upon Hahn’s suggestion by explaining how public health officials could use immunization registries, or Immunization information systems (IIS), to determine who has built up an immunity to the coronavirus and who can return to work.

Cassidy told Breitbart News, “It’s patterned after what we already we do with immunization. If you’re born sometime after 1994, every child is put into an immunization registry paid for by taxpayers; the information runs to the federal government. So when someone is vaccinated in 2006, again in 2015, and then again in 2017,  you go off to join the military in 2020, instead of having to pull up a vaccine card, they just go online and download their vaccine record. There’s a portal to do so. And you just hand it to them. It’s like we’ve been living with this for 26 years, and everybody has been acting like it’s something brand new.”

Cassidy noted that the immunization registry is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) protected to ensure Americans’ privacy and allows for secure data sharing with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“It is so much a part of us that nobody knows that they use it even though they use it without their knowledge. It’s the craziest thing in the world. Let’s use what we already have. The beauty of it, it’s already HIPAA protected. So all of these privacy laws that we have enacted apply to this. It’s so seamless, it is so easily done. The data is all imported to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s not that there’s some ‘Chinese wall’ between the state and the federal government, but it’s all HIPAA protected,” he added.

The senator contended that the immunization registry would allow for young Americans, who are less likely to develop coronavirus symptoms, to return to work after they build an immunity to the virus.

“Now, this would allow young people, in particular, to be able to return to commerce. Young people are the ones likely to go out, get infected but not realize it because if you’re less than 30, you don’t have symptoms,” Cassidy said. “You don’t have symptoms. You get infected. You’re immune. My gosh, you’re immune. If you’re working as a bartender, you’re not getting infected from people at the bar.”

The Louisiana senator said that the strategy works better compared to waiting for a vaccine to reopen society.

“Now, some people say, ‘Heck, we do it for immunization symptoms. We don’t care.’ Well, what’s your solution? That we just cut checks from the federal government until we get a vaccine 18 months from now? There has to be a dose of reality. We’ve been doing it since the 1990s. We’re totally used to it, HIPAA protected, especially benefits young people who are paying the highest price relative to others for getting coronavirus infection, and the alternative is to keep our economy shutdown till we get a vaccine.”

Cassidy said that the immunization registry, combined with mass serology tests, could create a roadmap for the country to reopen some areas of the country that are less infected by the coronavirus as well as allowing immune Americans to return to work.

Cassidy stated, “So my hope is that we have this kind of ‘if-then’ approach to it. If we successfully control the initial outbreak, then we can consider future measures. If we have a significant percent of people who have established immunity and a group of young people who have a very low risk of getting symptoms or getting infected, they form the beginning of the group that reactivates the economy because we will know not only who is immune; we also know who is not immune. If someone is not immune, I’m going to wear a mask in a public place.”

“Over time, we will have an increasing number of the population, which is immune, and then finally we will get a vaccine, and everybody that we know is not immune, then we will vaccinate. But, in the interim, children return to school, young people return to college, return to their workplace. If you are older than 30, if you have been established to be immune,  also return without wearing a mask. And for the others, they wear a mask,” he added.

Cassidy said that they could deploy immunity certificates to show who can return to work and reopen some businesses.

“We take the coronavirus information; then we can begin to document what the number of people is in a given community and who is immune, have certificates that people can give them, to their employer establishing that they’re immune so that they can relax workplace restrictions like you had to be six feet apart. You can be shoulder to shoulder, and all of those sorts of things as we can move to the 4 to 12 months either having a vaccine or relatively open economy despite not having a vaccine,” he said.

“If you’re a nurse, you can see a routine coronavirus patient because you’re immune,” he added.

Cassidy said doctors could also use serological tests to determine if a patient could donate convalescent plasma, which could be a potential treatment for severely afflicted coronavirus patients. The therapy would pull blood plasma from recovered patients and inject those antibodies into sick patients. He noted that public health officials would use the immunization registry to see who may donate convalescent plasma to help Americans with the coronavirus.

“You have the database to see who has immunity so that if you have an outbreak, you call up the people who are immune: ‘Do you mind donating blood because we need your plasma to fight off the infection in some of the deathly ill?'” Cassidy said. “So with this sort of registry, we would need to know who would be vaccinated and who wouldn’t need to be vaccinated right away. And so, therefore, we could stage immunization, focusing on those most vulnerable and then go to those who are less vulnerable. I mean, there are so many uses to this, but it really needs to set up as soon as possible.”

Cassidy concluded that the immunization system “works really well. It’s been in place for three decades, and nobody has even noticed.”

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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