Antibody tests too unreliable to be used to judge coronavirus immunity levels, review finds

“These observations indicate important weaknesses in the evidence on Covid-19 serological tests, particularly those being marketed as point-of-care tests,” the authors wrote in the BMJ.

“While the scientific community should be lauded for the pace at which novel serological tests have been developed, this review underscores the need for high-quality clinical studies to evaluate these tools.

“With international collaboration, such studies could be rapidly conducted.”

Commenting on the results, Sanjeev Krishna, Professor of Molecular Parasitology and Medicine at St George’s, University of London, said: “Like most diagnostic tests that need to be developed with urgency, the first products may lack robustness through poor evaluation methodologies or poor test performance, but many tests can be improved with time. 

“It is important not to dismiss them from the start, as antibody tests will take their place in the suite of diagnostic tests that are needed to understand and manage the Covid-19 pandemic, whether to identify those eligible for vaccine or plasma donation studies, or to understand the role of ‘immunity passports’.  

“In the end, we will need high-quality antibody tests to understand the nature of immunity to Covid-19 infections.”

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