What Do We Learn from Antibody Tests, and What We Don’t?

There is no doubt that the U.S. and many other governments depend on the results of the antibody testing, which showed as extremely inaccurate so far.

If reliable, the antibody tests can detect who was infected by COVID-19, whether they developed immunity, and how long can that immunity efficiently protect the body from reinfecting.

A group of doctors from the University of California, Berkeley, and UC San Francisco project are testing these kits to prove which work and which don’t. According to their research, it seems that after all, some of the FDA-approved antibody testing kits are performing well two weeks after the infection, while there is still plenty of tests that are below any reasonable accuracy.

Some of the tests even have positive results while people have never had COVID-19, with our without symptoms. The government officials are suggesting immunity passports for all those who tested positive for coronavirus virus antibodies, which would mean returning to normal life, while scientists warn that there isn’t a proof for antibody test full reliability.

What Can Antibody Tests Tell Us?

While RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction) test is only diagnostic and tells us who’s infected and who’s not, accurate antibody test can tell us who was infected weeks ago but never showed any symptoms.

According to the doctors, this category of virus carriers is the most dangerous for public health, as they spread the virus without having a clue they have it in their blood.

A body infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the cause for COVID-19) starts producing initial antibodies known as IgM (immunoglobulin-M) that start fighting the virus. Once a person is into an advanced infection stage, the body starts producing IgG, a new antibody that attacks the virus intruder.

Antibody tests can detect both, IgM and IgG which can tell us the correct infection stage, depending on the antibody type found in the blood.

What They Can’t?

Antibody tests can’t tell us whether the immunity is long-lasting or not. If someone’s positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, there is no clear evidence that the person has lifelong immunity to the infection. This means that scientists still can’t tell if once recovered from the virus, people can’t get reinfected in the near future.

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