Antibody tests for COVID-19 may be giving false sense of security to individuals

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the hopes of being impervious to coronavirus, some people are having their antibodies tested to see if they came in contact with the illness and built a resistance to it. Doctors fear this could pose a problem.

“Most of the testing you’re hearing about right now is the IGG testing. We haven’t determined what antibody levels are required to give somebody immunity, or how long those antibodies last,” explains Dr. Terry Layman, Chief Medical Officer with OurHealth, “These tests center around commercial labs that are qualitative tests. They give us a “Yes or No” not a level, so even when we do determine what level [results in immunity] this test would still not be helpful.”

He adds that the current antibody tests at commercial labs have not gone through the typical Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process. They are approved through an expedited process as part of the FDA’s emergency use authorization.

“Basically, it means that all these companies themselves have been asked to validate, and assure the FDA, they are accurate, so that eliminates the validity of the test,” says Dr. Layman.

Dr. Layman says people taking antibody tests may be given a false sense of hope that their bodies will reject COVID-19.

“This is another idea that concerns me, this idea of chickenpox style parties to get your IGG positive, so you can be safe in the future, or you can travel, or go back to work,” details Dr. Layman, “I would strongly discourage that type of behavior. Some people won’t mount immunity to the disease, so you won’t be long term immune.”

Antibody tests are a great way for state and county health departments to see how prevalent the virus is in a region, or to see how many people are asymptomatic. From an individual standpoint, it doesn’t mean anything right now.

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