Why Antibody Tests?*
Highly accurate antibody tests are critical to help inform clinical and public health decisions as we look towards safely opening our communities.
Clinical Use Summarized
- Determine immune response to the virus, indicating some potential level of immunity1,2
- Some tests detect antibodies that may be associated with neutralizing the virus1,2
- When swab sample collection is compromised, thus affecting PCR test results (antigen or PCR testing should be performed as soon as possible afterwards)
- Testing as an adjunct to PCR tests to aid in clinical assessment, including when viral load is low 3,4
- Potentially verifying effectiveness of vaccines when they become available1,2
Antibody Tests Complement PCR Tests By:
- Supporting the clinical assessment of COVID-19 illness as an adjunct to PCR in patients that test negative while presenting with COVID-19 signs and symptoms3
- Providing an alternative when swab sample collection is compromised, which may affect PCR test results (antigen or PCR testing should be performed as soon as possible afterwards)
- Supporting the assessment of recent or prior infection as an adjunct to PCR testing, including, for example patients in clinical settings (e.g. Pre-op, ED, acute hospitalized)4
Antibody Tests Help Improve Public Health and Safety By:
- Informing infection prevalence and the COVID-19 related death rate
- Allowing testing following outbreaks in high density work settings (i.e. food processing industry) and communal living (college dorms)—where prevalence may be higher†
- Enabling testing of healthcare and elder care workers and first responders–serving high-risk populations†
- Testing workforce to return and stay safe in the workplace—when social distancing is a challenge† (e.g. manufacturing, correctional facilities, military, transportation, childcare, teachers)
†Combined with PCR testing for active infection.
Quality and Accuracy are Paramount
A good antibody test is one that has a high degree of sensitivity and specificity.
- Test sensitivity indicates the ability of the test to correctly identify patients that have the disease (true positives).
- Test specificity indicates the ability of the test to correctly identify patients that do not have the disease (true negatives).
The CDC guidelines indicate a specificity of >99.5% for antibody tests is desirable.4
What tests should you be given and how should you interpret the results?
Accurate virus detection test
Accurate antibody detection test
Detection of virus to show present and active infection
Detection of antibodies, which indicate prior exposure to the virus and some likely level of immunity2,3
Swab, sample mucous from nose or throat
Type of test
Blood draw, using a test tube
Detects genetic information that indicates the virus is present and may be active
How it works
Detects existence of antibodies, which may likely indicate some level of immunity2,3,5
• If you have COVID-19 symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus
When it should be taken
• If you think you had COVID-19 more than 2 weeks ago and want to want to know if you had the virus
2 Hours to 5 Days**
For the patient to
receive results from
a highly accurate test
30 Minutes to 5 Days**
• Highly accurate tests should maximize sensitivity. Some have 100% sensitivity
A highly accurate
test should reduce
• Highly accurate tests have over 99.5% specificity and over 90% sensitivity. Some have 99.8% specificity and 100% sensitivity.
• Most likely you do have a current infection and may give it to others
If you test positive
• You likely had COVID-19 and may have some level of immunity to future re-infection
• Most likely, you do NOT currently have COVID-19
If you test negative
• You likely never had COVID-19
How business leaders can help bring people back to work
Leaders can use this knowledge to help build programs that more safely and efficiently reopen communities, businesses and schools. As a leader of one of the world’s largest laboratory diagnostics businesses Deepak Nath, PhD, President of Siemens Healthineers Laboratory Diagnostics has proposed a framework for such a plan.