Three Common COVID-19 Antibody Test Myths 

Published by Jordan Quaglietta on

There are a multitude of differing opinions out there regarding COVID-19. Some people are fearful and taking precautions seriously while others believe the entire thing is a sham and some sort of government conspiracy. Houses are divided; local government is divided; and the nation is divided. Much of the division stems from political beliefs as well as myths and misconceptions floating around about the virus. 

There certainly are misconceptions out there about the COVID-19 antibody test. While there are probably dozens of antibody myths, this article will cover only the top three that have been fact-checked online. 

First, let’s clear up what antibodies are and what an antibody test is actually testing for.

The CDC says “Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections and can provide protection against getting that disease again (immunity).” 

Therefore, the COVID-19 antibody test uses your blood to check for any antibodies that show you have already been exposed to the virus. 

The Top Three Myths 

MYTH: Having antibodies means you are immune to COVID-19. 

FACT: There is still some to learn about COVID-19 antibodies; and remember—this is a new virus to us. Scientists and researchers need to be able to study those who have recovered from the virus over a much longer period of time to be able to determine how long “protection” (if any) lasts in those who have the antibodies. As of now, there is no official evidence that antibodies are linked to immunity or offer any specific type of protection from COVID-19. 

A Forbes article written by a science contributor states, “In addition, the presence of antibodies is not a yes or no issue. The number of antibodies in a person’s system and the amount of time they have been there are both factors. We do not know what level of antibody presence is necessary to protect an individual from reinfection.

MYTH: Now that we have evidence of more and more individuals with antibodies, we can start to reopen the country. 

FACT: Remember when COVID-19 testing began and the positive numbers significantly rose? Part of this was due to the increase in testing. The same goes for antibody testing; more people have access to it and more people are getting tested, which will increase the numbers on the graphs we see everyday online. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is such a great number of people with antibodies that we should feel safe enough to open things back up. 

Even if there were a growing number of individuals shown to have antibodies, that doesn’t mean they cannot get reinfected at some point. Going back to myth number one—having antibodies doesn’t mean you are immune to reinfection. 

MYTH: All antibody tests provide reliable and truthful information.

FACT: Unfortunately, not all antibody tests are alike. Early on “the FDA didn’t require manufacturers to get authorization from the agency, making test quality very inconsistent,” and on May 4 “the FDA announced that all companies had to submit validation data and apply for “emergency utilization authority” (EUA) to sell a test,” (NBCNews). 

The FDA has a statement on their website about estimating the amount of antibodies in an individual: 

“These estimates of sensitivity and specificity are just that: estimates. They include 95% confidence intervals, which are the range of estimates we are about 95% sure a test’s sensitivity and specificity will fall within given how many samples were used in the performance validation. The more samples used to validate a test, the smaller the confidence interval becomes, meaning that we can be more confident in the estimates of sensitivity and specificity provided.”

Buyer beware—if getting tested for antibodies, do so at a reputable place such as LabCorp. Some areas do not offer antibody testing and you cannot just drive up to your doctor’s office or a pharmacy and get one done like you can with COVID-19 testing. 

The best thing for individuals to do in order to combat myths and misconceptions and to stay up-to-date on scientific facts is to:

  • Know how and where to search for information.
  • Don’t trust just anyone.
  • If something seems off, it probably is. Double check on a reputable site like the CDC or FDA. 
  • Use common sense! 

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Categories: Informational

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