American Medical Association cautions public on reliability of COVID-19 antibody tests

The blood test to tell if you have had COVID-19 and now have antibodies in your system could lead to a false sense of security, according to the American Medical Association.

The group is cautioning physicians and the general public about use of the tests to determine individual immunity.

“We should make certain that everyone knows that we don’t yet know whether these tests are accurate,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, President, American Medical Association. “We don’t now yet know how long if you have antibodies how long if you do have immunity - if we find out we do have immunity, how long that will last?”

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Harris said there are about 120 antibody tests out on the market right now, but only a handful have even a minimum level of approval.

“Only 12 at this time have emergency use authorization and so even those have not gone through the full and rigorous vetting,” Harris said. “So based on that, we recommend these tests are used only in very limited situations and certainly not be used as an indication of protection from future infection of COVID-19.”

The AMA recommends the antibody tests only be used as part of an overall population survey to determine how many people have had the disease or in a setting where plasma is being recovered.

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