Immunity and Antibody Tests

As states begin to reopen and frontline heroes continue to fight the coronavirus, people are getting tired of the stay at home order. With that being said, recent approval of antibody tests have brought hope for the people who are growing tired of the stay at home order. Whether it be the people who want to get out and do their part for their community or the people who miss being able dine in at restaurants.

Antibody tests take your blood and test it for antibodies, proteins made by plasma cells that your body makes in order to fight viruses, to see if you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. So far, these are the only tests said to be almost 100% accurate and are approved by the FDA are those manufactured by the Swiss multinational healthcare company Roche Holding AG.

Although antibodies sound promising, it is important to understand that even if an antibody test comes back positive, that does not mean the patient is immune. It only means that they have, more than likely, been exposed to a coronavirus and have antibodies in their immune system.

“It’s very different to say ‘you’ve been exposed’ than ‘you have immunity,’” said Dr. David Agus, a physician.

Even at that, there is more than one coronavirus out there. The one currently plaguing the world is called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). An antibody test may mistake even the common cold for the most recent coronavirus and mistakenly tell someone they have been exposed and have antibodies when they really haven’t.

Only a couple hundred tests have been approved, and antibody testing has been deemed unnecessary for the general public.

“There is no reason to get a test at the present time unless you are part of an epidemiologic study or your company wants to know how many people have potentially been exposed… For personal decisions right now, they are not to be used because they do not tell you immunity,” said Agus.

Scientists are still unsure if antibodies offer immunity to SARS-CoV-2 or if injecting the plasma of someone who has tested positive for antibodies could serve as a cure or vaccination.

“So the key going forward is to have that immunity test. They’ve been talking about it for many weeks at the press conferences the president holds. I hope and pray it comes soon,” said Agus.