REGARDING COVID-19 ANTIBODY TESTING
There has been a lot of interest and inquiries recently regarding the COVID commercial antibody testing that is being performed and marketed by many different companies. As the FDA is unable to validate the accuracy of antibody tests that are on the market, we are currently not ordering antibody testing for our patients. We feel that hastily ordering these potentially inaccurate testS could be very harmful, as they may provide a false sense of security or panic in patients, depending on the results. Also, at this point, scientists and health professionals cannot say conclusively whether the presence of antibodies means that someone has protective immunity to COVID-19. They also do not know how long that presumed immunity would last. Another concern with these antibody tests is that they might pick up cross-reactive antibodies to OTHER types of coronaviruses.
Important to keep in mind also is that the results of these antibody tests would and should not change the adherence of strict social distancing guidelines currently in place. As well, positive antibody results would not mean that it’s safe to disregard these social distancing guidelines (i.e. we have had patients whom want to visit or help care for their elderly parent but want to “check if antibodies are positive”, thinking that this would enable them to do so.). The presence of these antibodies would not necessarily mean that you have protective immunity to COVID-19, and so a healthcare provider would still advise that patient to maintain social distancing precautions and avoid any close contact with elderly family members. On the other hand, negative antibody results may not mean you haven’t had or been exposed to the virus as an asymptomatic carrier.
We are all anxiously awaiting accurate, FDA-approved COVID testing, and ask for your patience in the coming weeks. Assuming that antibodies do confer some immunity, it is vital that the tests for them are accurate. We will update our patients as this testing becomes available, but please know we are here in the interim to address your concerns and take care of your medical needs. Our priority is to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.
Please stay safe.