Are Serological Antibody Tests the Next Step in Countering the Spread of COVID-19?

In order to determine how widespread COVID-19 has become, medical laboratories and In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) companies are in the midst of developing serological survey testing. This type of testing would be able to detect whether a person’s immune system has developed antibodies to counteract the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In turn, this could also give insight into the infection rates of entire populations. 

Because of the delay from the time of infection to when the body begins developing antibodies, these tests would not be designed for those recently or actively infected. The real potential with these tests lies in the fact that they could be used to identify people who are immune, even if they showed only mild symptoms – or none at all. Those who test results show them to be immune could be the first to go back to a normal routine. 

The caveat is that some experts warn that the duration of immunity from COVID-19 is not yet well understood and is likely to vary from person-to-person. It is also unknown whether these antibodies would be enough to protect someone who is re-exposed to the virus frequently, such as someone working in an emergency room or ICU. 

Despite these warnings, serological testing can be viewed as a possible important tool for both clinical laboratories and epidemiologists to use in order to counter the spread of the infectious COVID-19 virus.


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