A new automated, mobile white blood cell differential test could identify meat processing plant workers likely to test positive for COVID-19.

“I imagine many of you remember all too well the pain of trying to keep operations and processing lines staffed as employees either tested positive or were too concerned about COVID-19 to show up for work.” Joy Parr Drach, president and CEO, Advanced Animal Diagnostics, said during the Virtual Poultry Tech Summit 2020.

“Flu season is upon us and we’re gearing up for what could be a bleak winter.”

Earlier this year, numerous meat and poultry processing facilities were forced to slow or even stop operations to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic after outbreaks in workers occurred.

How the test works

The COVID-19 test is designed to provide early, immediate, inexpensive and on-target results in less than two minutes using a finger stick. It can track employee results confidentially by scanning an employee badge or entering an ID number.

“COVID-19 affects one of your white blood cell types known as lymphocytes. It kills lymphocytes and as their numbers decrease, it causes a state called lymphopenia,” said Dratch.

“The test identifies each of the white blood cell types in our blood because each one has a different role in the immune system.”


Unlike standard PCR or antigen tests, this approach gives quicker results because it measures the innate immune response instead of viral load.

“When you’re getting a PCR test, it’s testing for viral load. Antigen tests do the same thing. That’s why people have to wait so long to be tested. They have to wait for the viral load to develop,” Dratch explained.

This new test “works on the innate immune response so it’s an earlier test,” she added.                

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View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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