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Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine and his wife have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, according to the senator’s office, a result that if accurate would indicate both the former Democratic vice presidential nominee and his spouse had the disease earlier this year as the pandemic spread across the U.S.
“My wife Anne and I recently tested positive for antibodies to coronavirus,” Kaine said in a statement. “We each tested positive for coronavirus antibodies this month. While those antibodies could make us less likely to be re-infected or infect others, there is still too much uncertainty over what protection antibodies may actually provide.”
Kaine added that he and his wife will continue following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) social distancing guidelines, including wearing a mask and regularly washing hands.
“We encourage others to do so as well. It shows those around you that you care about them,” he said.
COVID-19 has now killed more than 100,000 Americans.
The presence of antibodies for a certain disease in someone’s system is a reliable indicator that he or she has had that illness in the past. Antibodies, according to a CDC page on the coronavirus, typically “help fight off infections and usually provide protection against getting that disease again (immunity).” But as Kaine’s statement noted, it remains unclear how much protection they provide for coronavirus.
Kaine, at 62, is younger than many coronavirus victims, which could explain why his bout with the virus was not particularly severe. In his statement, Kaine said he had tested positive for influenza earlier this year and in late March started to feel symptoms that he “initially thought were flu remnants and a reaction to an unusually high spring pollen count.”
But his wife later experienced several symptoms matching the coronavirus and doctors advised the couple that they might have come down with the disease.
“Due to the national testing shortage, we were not tested for the virus but continued isolating and watched for any worsening of symptoms,” Kaine said. “By mid-April we were symptom free.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the first senator to test positive for the coronavirus in March, and a handful of members of the House of Representatives have tested positive for the disease as well.
Congress, advised by its in-house physicians, has taken some measures to protect members from the pandemic, including instituting remote work for most staff members. The Senate, when taking votes, has extended the time for which votes are open, allowing just a handful of senators to be in the chamber at a time. The House of Representatives, on the other hand, has put into place a proxy voting system that has drawn a lawsuit from Republican members arguing that it is unconstitutional.