Antibody testing: What it won’t tell you about immunity

‘We really don’t want people to get the antibody test now and then behave differently if they have antibodies’

ROANOKE, Va. – As more COVID-19 testing becomes available, another test is generating a lot of buzz: the antibody test.

Antibody testing could show how widespread the virus may be in the community and how many people may have gotten the virus without showing symptoms.

Unlike the nasal swab test that’s used to diagnose someone who is currently infected with COVID-19, the antibody test is a blood test that determines if someone was infected at some point and if their immune system has developed antibodies needed to fight off the virus.

“The really crucial point here is that you would not use the blood test to make a diagnosis of infection,” said Dr. Paul Skolnik, the chair of medicine at Carilion Clinic.

The presence of antibodies in a person’s system does not mean they’re immune to the virus.

“We’ll be studying that to figure that out. It’s possible. It might even be likely, but we don’t know for sure yet," said Skolnik.

Health officials admit there is not enough evidence yet to show how effective those antibodies are, how long they stay in your system, if you could catch COVID-19 again, or if you could pass it on to someone else.

Then, why get an antibody test?

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