JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As hundreds of tests for COVID-19 go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every day, there is another test created by a University of Florida scientist that tests Floridians that might have COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms.
It’s similar to the CDC test, but the test created by UF scientist Dr. John Lednicky is being used at UF Health and throughout the city.
“You have a national tragedy like this an outbreak and the country’s unprepared you have to be able to give academic research center the ability to do their part,” said Lednicky, a research professor of environmental and global health.
Lednicky created a coronavirus test four years ago, now that same test is being used to identify the virus in older people that are not showing any symptoms.
“The most important thing right now is to understand how the virus is spreading through the community and if you only test people that are sick you are not going to be able to understand who is spreading it,” he said.
As a child, Lednicky was in the Phillippines when he had bat soup. Shortly after he became sick with a severe viral respiratory infection. He doesn’t know if he got the virus from the soup but the experience led to him researching coronaviruses for 35 years.
Four years ago he created what is now being called the “UF Test.” It detects the coronavirus.
“The virus is much more widespread than anyone previously thought and that is very important in learning how to control the virus and how to contain it,” he said.
That test is being used at UF Health, surrounding Jacksonville communities and The Villages.
“You might be negative today, but two days later you might be positive,” Lednicky said. “So the question you ask is very profound because, how many times do you have to do this? How often?”
Lednicky says we don’t know if there will be a second wave of the virus as things slowly go back to normal but he warns people should protect themselves from the possibility of getting COVID-19: Cover your mouth and maintain social distancing.
It’s not clear how long the UF testing will continue but it has to be funded for them to better understand how COVID-19 impacts people that are asymptomatic.