The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has released a primer regarding SARS-CoV-2 serology antibody testing, as well as the research and policy questions the effort raises.
“As serological testing for SARS-CoV-2 advances, there are multiple issues that need to be addressed, from test quality to interpretation,” researchers wrote in the primer introduction. “Unlike molecular tests for COVID-19, antibody tests may be better suited for public health surveillance and vaccine development than for diagnosis. The tests should not be used as the sole test for diagnostic decisions.”
The IDSA maintains tests seeking to detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 vary widely in performance, and remain clinically unverified, which opens possibilities for false-positive and false-negative results.
With little to no clinical evidence having antibodies against the virus confers immunity among recovered patients, IDSA offers caution that the tests not be used as a basis on whether personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, is needed.
While the IDSA acknowledges that, through the primer, the testing mechanism could be useful in vaccine development to identify potential convalescent plasma donors. For urgently needed surveillance efforts, it believes policy questions surrounding how information from the tests will be used, including what measures can be taken to protect the privacy of those tested, remain.