COVID Antibody Test

What You Need To Know About Coronavirus Antibody Testing

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been working tirelessly to combat the coronavirus pandemic the world is currently enduring. More recently, they granted emergency authorization to over a dozen kinds of Covid-19 antibody tests to be added to the 200 other kinds of tests that are currently on the market

Roche is one authorized company developing antibody tests that they claim are 100% accurate in finding coronavirus antibodies in the blood and 99.8% accurate at ruling them out as well. For individuals who have gotten sick within the past few months but weren’t tested for Covid-19, or individuals who didn’t get sick, but could also have just been asymptomatic, would likely want to be tested for antibodies to receive possible answers/advancements towards a proper drug treatment or vaccine.  

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Antibodies are defined as the proteins in our bodies that attack foreign viruses when we get sick. For example, if you’ve gotten the common cold before, your body likely has all of the antibodies to fight it off since you’ve gotten sick with the same illness before. These antibodies are what help scientists develop vaccines as well, so it’s imperative that they get as many coronavirus antibodies as possible. 

“Having specific antibodies means you’ve been exposed to that virus, or you’ve had a vaccine for it. However, many antibody tests on the market right now are advertising claims that make no sense. Too little is known about the coronavirus to rely on the results of most of the current antibody tests,” according to CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus.

Dr. Agus believes that a lot of these non-authorized tests have a higher rate of false-positive results, and are therefore leading people to believe that they have antibodies when they don’t. Even the latest tests that the FDA approved of and are claiming to be highly accurate could give false-positive results based on the unpredictable nature of this virus in general. 

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It’s also important to note that even if you do test positive for antibodies against Covid-19 and the test itself was accurate, there’s still no guarantee that you’re completely safe from the virus. Again, like the common cold, just because your body has all the antibodies to fight it off, you can still get the cold, and likely will, multiple times throughout your life based on exposure. This is also because sometimes your body creates antibodies just to fight off the infection brought on by the virus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can fully neutralize the virus itself. 

For now, however, the antibody tests can at least provide a greater insight into who’s already been exposed/infected, which can help with contact-tracing processes. 

“There is no reason to get a test at the present time unless you’re part of an epidemiologic study, [or] your company wants to know how many people potentially have been exposed. For reasons like that, they’re important. But for personal decisions, right now, they are not to be used, because they do not tell you immunity,” Agus said.

The one universal fact that all medical professionals have agreed upon is the unpredictable nature of this virus, and that applies to its antibodies as well. Until researchers receive more concrete evidence, it’s simply a waiting game, so for now, it’s important to listen carefully to your healthcare professionals and continue to abide by social-distancing policies.