Physicians say COVID-19 Antibody testing could do more harm than good

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – While the Antibody Test has been around for some time now, some physicians said it’s still too early to understand that data fully and to find a use for it. The test specifically looks for how your body reacts to being exposed to the SARS CoV2; the initial hope was to examine a potential immunity, however this still has not been substantiated.

Dr. Valerie Scott, a physician with Roper St. Francis Healthcare, said when it comes to any type of testing, there’s three things to look for. The first being, ‘what is the probability that this test is going to be positive’, then ‘how am I going to interpret it’, and ‘will it change behavior’.

According to Dr. Scott, the COVID-19 Antibody test fails in all of the three categories. The most alarming of those according to Dr. Scott is the lack of change in behavior 

You aren’t going to change your behavior based on it, right? You’re not an acutely infected—so you don’t need to be isolated. You’re not going to say yeah I’ve had it—I don’t need to wear a mask, I don’t need to worry about these precautions because you could maybe get it again. We don’t know that the antibody test confers immunity.  

Dr. Valerie Scott, Physician at Roper St. Francis 

According to Dr. Scott, the more often that we see COVID-19 infections, the more accurate the antibody tests will be. She added that if a test comes back ‘negative,’ that means that you have not come in contact with the virus in an infectious way—if it’s ‘positive’ maybe you have.

With the inability to declare a definitive immunity, Dr.Scott said she does not believe it will be useful for companies or schools to require antibody testing as a requirement to resume in-person.  

I don’t think that we’re at a point where we can really utilize it to say oh all you people that are COVID positive—Antibody positive—you can come back to school, these other people have to stay online—no we’re not there yet.  

Dr. Valerie Scott, Physician at Roper St. Francis 

Though Dr. Scott does not see the COVID-19 Antibody test as a reliable tool for both the public and the medical professional field now—she does think that in future, it could prove to be more useful pending further research.

Even if you have had a ‘positive’ COVID-19 Antibody Test, that does not mean that you are immune. Dr. Scott still advises that you continue practicing safe social distancing and wearing a mask.

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