COVID-19 Update: The Pros and Cons of Antibody Tests

June 17, 2020

As companies reopen, concerns about staff members contracting and spreading COVID-19 could lead employers to recommend their workers undergo antibody testing.

An antibody is a Y-shaped protein used by the immune system to neutralize pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses. The benefit of undergoing a coronavirus antibody test is that it can determine if the person has been infected by the virus and may be immune to it.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released recommendations for COVID-19 testing, including testing guidelines for nursing home residents and staff, such as those who clean long-term care facilities. The information given from the antibody test can offer insight as to how the novel coronavirus behaves as well as the test subject’s immunity, However, care needs to be taken in making sure the test is reliable.

Some of the earlier tests were faulty, showing a false positive rate of up to 50%, the Cleveland Clinic reports. Infection control experts do not have enough information on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to determine if people are immune if they possess antibodies to the virus.

With the high number of false tests and the lack of knowledge on the virus itself, it may be best to wait until there is a revamped version of the test to be administered. An updated, accurate version of the test will show the true scale of how the virus spreads.


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