APR 13, 2020 6:35 AM PDT

Are COVID-19 Antibody Tests a Back-to-Work Pass?

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Although treatments and vaccines against COVID-19 may still be months away, antibody tests are becoming more widespread. Already, over 70 developers have contacted the FDA to let them know that they have such tests available. Does this mean that they may be used as a pass to allow people to go back to work? 

On April 10th, the National Institutes of Health announced that it would test 10,000 healthy people around the US for the presence of antibodies in their blood. Dr Anthong S. Fauci, a lead member of the Trump Administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force said, “As we get to the point of considering opening the country...it is very important to understand how much that virus has penetrated society.”

Depending on the success of the antibody tests, he also mentioned the idea of issuing a ‘certificate of immunity’ to people who were previously infected. But would these certificates really be enough to allow people to go back to work? 

Antibody tests work by detecting antibodies in the blood specific to a certain disease. If these antibodies appear in a person’s blood, it’s likely that they already developed an immune response to a certain pathogen. Not only has this person likely already had the disease, but they likely will be able to use the same antibodies again to defend against it. 

Although antibody tests could theoretically be used to allow citizens back to work, there are some issues around their functionality. To begin, some people who may have already had the virus and had mild or no symptoms may have not developed sufficient antibodies to prevent re-infection. Moreover, people who test positive for antibodies may still be infectious. 

Antibody tests already used in the UK have been plagued by false results. False positives may be particularly dangerous as they may falsely claim someone to be immune from the virus when in fact, they are at risk. 

Thus, before COVID-19 antibody tests may be properly considered as a route for people to return to work, further research is needed to confirm their efficacy. Until then, working from home and social distancing are still recommended, regardless of whether or not you think you have had the virus. 


Sources: NIH, NYTimes, Japan Times

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
SEP 30, 2020
Cancer
Chemokines Could be the Key in Controlling Glioma Stem Cells
SEP 30, 2020
Chemokines Could be the Key in Controlling Glioma Stem Cells
The transformation of a healthy cell into a cancerous one often comes with a slew of cellular signaling changes.  T ...
OCT 03, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Compound Prevents Colon Cancer in Mice
OCT 03, 2020
Cannabis Compound Prevents Colon Cancer in Mice
Second only to skin cancer, colon cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the US. Now, resea ...
OCT 22, 2020
Neuroscience
Placebos Impact Brain Patterns for Emotional Processing
OCT 22, 2020
Placebos Impact Brain Patterns for Emotional Processing
Researchers from Michigan State University have found that placebos reduce markers of emotional distress- even when the ...
OCT 11, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Treating Connective Tissue Disorders
OCT 11, 2020
Treating Connective Tissue Disorders
Collaborative research efforts are geared to improving disease that affects connective tissues via innovative drug deliv ...
NOV 08, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Mouth Spray for Epidermolysis Bullosa in Development
NOV 08, 2020
Mouth Spray for Epidermolysis Bullosa in Development
Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) is a rare genetic disorder that makes the skin incredibly fragile; it forms blisters and can ...
NOV 18, 2020
Technology
Using Machine Learning to Build Chemical Libraries
NOV 18, 2020
Using Machine Learning to Build Chemical Libraries
Using machine learning in drug discovery is no longer a novel procedure and has been well documented in recent literatur ...
Loading Comments...