Serology Testing Is Critical in Overcoming the COVID-19 Pandemic—Now and in the Future

Role of Serology Tests in COVID-19

Serology tests for COVID-19 use a blood sample to identify antibodies to the virus (SARS-CoV-2).1 The presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in the blood indicates the patient, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, had an immune response to the virus.

Serology tests play an important role throughout the patient care pathway and are vital for the management and surveillance of the virus. They are critical in determining the full scope of the disease, combating the pandemic, and rebuilding public confidence.

Recognizing the critical need for rapid and accurate diagnostic testing, we now have available a total antibody test - the SARS-CoV-2 Total assay* which detects both IgM and the longer-lasting IgG antibodies in blood to help provide a clearer picture of infection progression.

Monitoring, Therapy, and Follow-up

Serology tests play a critical role in patient management. Unlike viral RNA, which is not detectable after recovery from infection, antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 may remain in the blood indefinitely and be detected in patients who have recovered from the virus or unknowingly carried it.1,2 When immunity is better understood, serology tests may also be able to detect immunity in exposed individuals and populations. As the pandemic evolves, this capability will be extremely valuable in surveillance of the disease and in the event of future outbreaks.2,3

More specifically, serology testing can:

  • Help identify patients with resolving/resolved infections and thereby offer insight into the virus’s prevalence within populations, including infections that are/were mild or asymptomatic.
  • Potentially detect immunity in COVID-19–recovered individuals, which could allow people to return to work/society and contribute to economic activity.
  • Potentially detect immunity in individuals such as healthcare providers, allowing them to continue their efforts against COVID-19 and possibly avoid unnecessary quarantine.
  • Aid in the assessment of vaccination response. 

*This test has not been reviewed by the FDA. In the U.S., use of this test is limited to laboratories that are certified under Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) to perform high-complexity testing. Product availability may vary by country and is subject to regulatory requirements.

Immunity with resolved infection has yet to be established; additional data is necessary to confirm or refute.