The Problem with Antibody Tests

Testing Covid-19

No therapy, no vaccine. At least, COVID-19 survivors can be tested for antibodies and know they’re immune, right?


WHO threw cold water on that assumption on Friday, saying there’s no evidence that if you’ve survived COVID-19, you have immunity, according to the Irish Times. Tests may reveal the presence of antibodies, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe from reinfection, said WHO’s Maria van Kerchief.

Early data doesn’t indicate that a large percentage of populations have developed antibodies, which would raise hopes of eventually achieving levels needed for herd immunity, added Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program.

Complicating issues in the US is a Wild-West approach to antibody tests as more than 90 tests have hit the market without the FDA’s prior review, The Washington Post reports. The FDA allowed companies to self-validate.

Tests of "dubious quality," have reached the US market, according to The New York Times. Only 4 serological tests have gone through the FDA’s thorough review and received an emergency use authorization, the Post reports.

FDA chief Stephen Hahn warned on Thursday that "people should be very cautious" about the tests.

The Quote: "Having many inaccurate tests is worse than having no tests at all," said Kelly Wroblewski, director of infectious disease programs at the Association of Public Health Laboratories.