Antibody tests are making lots of headlines right now, especially as they become more available to the general public. As Georgia and the rest of the country begin the reopening process, many experts are looking to coronavirus antibody tests to help make decisions.
Coronavirus antibody tests are already available in many metropolitan areas, including Georgia. These blood tests look for proteins and antibodies in the blood that indicate your body fought off COVID-19. Researchers believe these antibody tests can provide a great deal of help in how to reopen businesses safely, protect our citizens, and help clarify which types of people may be susceptible to re-infection.
How do COVID-19 antibody tests work?
The antibody test is a simple pinprick to obtain blood for a sample to test for coronavirus-specific antibodies. This is not the same as the coronavirus diagnostic test, which is typically a nasal swab. Remember, the presence of antibodies does not necessarily mean one is immune.
You may see advertisements or offers from medical labs offering coronavirus antibody tests. Early on in the pandemic, the FDA acknowledged the balance between getting test kits out to the market quickly and protecting consumers from false and unvalidated product claims. However, more recently they’ve taken a harder line, announcing on May 4 that if testing companies don’t submit proof of test accuracy within 10 days, the FDA would pull their product from the market.
Are antibody tests reliable?
Because the novel coronavirus is unlike other pandemics, none of the current tests available have an established record of success. Patients can receive false positives or false negatives. The New York Times tested 14 coronavirus antibody tests in April, and only three delivered accurate results.
What if my test shows antibodies?
Having antibodies specific to COVID-19 means that at some point you were exposed to the coronavirus. However, having these antibodies doesn’t guarantee immunity. The virus is so new that experts can’t accurately predict how it will react. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued a brief regarding COVID-19 “immunity passports,” as some governments and countries are suggesting for citizens to enable them to travel more freely.
This brief reads, in part, “At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificate.’ People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission.”
Should I get an antibody test?
This is your own medical decision, of course. However, if you are an essential worker, it may be a good idea to get one if testing is easily available to you. Consider some of these pros and cons from medical professionals before having yourself tested.
- Knowing your status
- Provide data to researchers
- Donate plasma to patients
- Help develop a vaccine
- Inconsistent quality of tests
- False sense of immunity to virus
- Antibody testing doesn’t catch active infections
The jury may still be out on the true implications of coronavirus antibodies. At this time, it’s best to follow the advice of your medical professional, the CDC and the WHO, and continue to follow your community’s safety guidelines.
The attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton remain committed to protecting the safety of the citizens of Savannah and Atlanta. We pride ourselves on serving your legal needs. Contact us today for experienced and strong representation. Feel free to set up a consultation at 912-417-3774 at our Savannah office or fill out our contact form. You can also contact us in Atlanta at 404-998-8847.