“As we work together to safely reopen our city and economy, better information about exposure will be critical to the many decisions ahead,” Comptroller Stringer said.
By Forum Staff
City Comptroller Scott Stringer recently sent a letter to City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot calling on the City to publicly release COVID-19 antibody testing data to better understand the scope of the pandemic and its impacts on vulnerable communities and New Yorkers of color. The comptroller’s letter made note of information from New York State’s sample of antibody tests indicating that the rate of positive antibody tests in the Bronx alone was 34 percent—much higher than the 19.9 percent for the city overall—which further underscored the need for transparency.
“With the aim of increasing transparency and better informing strategies for a safe re-opening, I am calling on the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to aggregate and make public results of all COVID-19 antibody tests,” the comptroller wrote.
Stringer noted that making aggregated antibody testing data public would help improve the City’s understanding of rates of infection by neighborhood and social status; improve understanding of the new pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome affecting children and young people; enable comparisons of varying antibody tests administered by different health providers, and provide greater information to the public on how to achieve a safe and strategic reopening.
“Disclosure of aggregate antibody testing would:
Improve our understanding of rates of infection by age, neighborhood, sex, race, ethnicity, health status, immigration status, and employment,” Stringer wrote. “We have seen firsthand how this disease disproportionately impacts immigrants, seniors, those living in overcrowded households, and those in neighborhoods with poor air quality. This data would be critical to unpacking varied health outcomes and developing strategies to meet those specific challenges.
“Dispel fear and improve understanding of the new pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome manifesting itself among NYC children by measuring coronavirus exposure among children,” he continued. “Parents across our city are confused and scared for their children. While I know the City is releasing what information it has about this disease, I firmly believe that more information is the best way to combat fears and that greater data transparency would help to assuage concerns. Establishing a baseline estimate of infection rates among children and comparing that with the known incidents of this syndrome will allow us to better understand its scope.
“Enable comparisons of different antibody tests being offered by different providers,” Stringer added. “New Yorkers are already lining up for antibody tests at healthcare providers around the city, but these tests have been brought to market very quickly, and some are likely more accurate than others. Disclosing data from across different antibody test makers could potentially allow us to see if different tests done on similar populations show similar results, which would be reassuring, or different results, which could help identify problems.
“Provide greater information to ensure a more effective response to the pandemic and to inform a safe, strategic reopening,” the comptroller said. “As we work together to safely reopen our city and economy, better information about exposure will be critical to the many decisions ahead.”