Health experts warn of effectiveness of COVID-19 antibody testing


ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) ─ Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new warning about COVID-19 antibody testing. The agency’s guidance says antibody tests, used to find out if people have been infected by COVID-19 in the past, might be wrong up to half the time.

“If you’re going to get antibody testing, you need to do it within the right amount of time to get an accurate result,” said SwedishAmerican Infection Prevention Specialist, Dr. Jennifer Kline.

According to health professionals, antibodies are produced between one to three weeks after infection.

“You have to really be tested during the time frame the antibodies would be produced. Some people don’t produce antibodies at all, even after they’ve had an infection,” said Dr. Kline. “if you had a different type of coronavirus, there are a few type of coronaviruses that have been around for several years that cause the common cold and sometimes, if you already have antibodies present for one of those coronaviruses, your test could be positive, but that doesn’t mean you have antibodies to COVID-19.”

Local health experts say, as time goes on, and more is learned about the virus, antibody testing can be improved.

“I’m expecting, anticipating, that the testing methodologies will improve as we go through this, including the diagnostic testing capabilities that we have,” said Winnebago County Health Department Director, Dr. Sandra Martell. “Antibody testing, right now, is very concerning and it should not give anyone a false reassurance if you test positive you’re protected and if you’re negative you don’t need to take the necessary precautions.”

Dr. Kline agrees.

“Having a positive antibody test doesn’t release you from having to follow infection prevention guidelines that are put out,” said Dr. Kline. “It doesn’t change the way you’d be treated for any other healthcare needs.”

Experts do agree that if your healthcare provider recommends you get an antibody test, you should do so.

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