What An Antibody Coronavirus Test Won’t Tell You

by Shelli Stein

Coronavirus testing is a much talked about and debated topic. Same for taking a COVID-19 antibody test. Testing is starting to be required in many industries, including the travel and tourism industries. All kinds of employers are requiring these tests before allowing workers to continue to work or return to their jobs. Employers are also using these test findings to improve worker safety. Some hotels are even using coronavirus testing as a marketing tool.

Whether or not you should get a coronavirus antibody test is one question. If you do get one though, there are still things it won’t tell you. Many people have misconceptions about the tests, so let’s clear up some of the confusion.

Is Taking A Coronavirus Antibody Test A Good Idea?

Many people are thinking about getting these tests before traveling again. Travelers also have concerns about travel restrictions based on testing that vary from country to country. It’s a complicated world out there right now with coronavirus testing likely to find its way into many of our lives.

Usually you want to test negatively when you take a medical test. However, not in the case of coronavirus antibody tests.

What Does It Mean When A Coronavirus Antibody Test Is Positive?

Here’s what we know and don’t know about getting a positive result on your antibody test.

It’s still not certain that antibodies measured by a test protect you from catching the virus again.

Even if the antibodies are protective, it is not known how strong that protection might be. It’s also not known how long the protection might last.

How reliable are many of the antibody tests being sold?

We don’t know that yet, either.

Doctors tell patients even if they get positive results on an antibody test, keeping their guard up is still the best course of action.

Antibody test for the coronavirus

CDC Coronavirus Image

What Are Coronavirus Researchers Looking At?

According to this article, researchers are urgently trying to find answers and bring certainty to the best ways to conduct antibody testing. This is crucial because increasing numbers of people are getting the tests. Many don’t realize how much is still unknown about what the results mean.

What Is Known About Antibody Test Results?

1. Antibody tests are only a sign of past infection. The test is not a sign as to whether the infection is actually gone. That can only be determined by a diagnostic test that identifies genetic material from the virus or viral particles.

2. Some people also falsely think testing positive on an antibody test proves they can’t get infected with the virus again. Also not true.

Final Thoughts

Of course you can buy and take a coronavirus test for yourself just to know. However, how to interpret the test results, whether from a virus test or antibody test, is of course more important than the results themselves. Make sure the information you glean from the tests is understood based on fact and not myth.

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1 comment

ken June 10, 2020 - 3:49 pm

the swiss company claimed their antibody test is over 99% accurate…So unless they are lying, there are accurate antibody tests out there.


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