WHO Coronavirus Testing Warning – Issues Warning Over Antibody Tests
On Friday, the World Health Organization issued a warning about Covid-19 testing, saying that there is no evidence that serological tests can show if a person is no longer at risk of becoming reinfected or if a person has immunity.
The head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, said, “The level of serology presence, the level of antibodies can be measured by these antibody tests; however, that does not indicate that somebody with antibodies is immune.”
A person infected with Covid-19 in the past or if the person being either asymptomatic or recovered can be indicated by these so-called serological, or antibody tests.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, out of the 2.1 million coronavirus cases across the world, more than 560,000 cases are marked as recovered. However, as people go undetected and countries struggle with testing, the case total is likely much higher, said the infectious disease experts.
Antibody tests have just begun to roll out in the US. More than 671,000 people in the US are infected with the Covid-19 virus, and as the states start relaxing some of the strictsocial distancing measures imposed to combat the pandemic, President Donald Trump has recommended states to use the antibody tests.
Kerkhove said WHO officials discovered many countries are suggesting that a measure of immunity could be captured by these tests.
At a news conference at WHO’s Geneva headquarters, she said, “The test is a response that the body has a week or later after a person has been infected with Covid-19. Currently, we do not have any evidence suggesting that using a serological test could show that an individual is protected from reinfection or is immune.”
The executive director of WHO’s emergency program, Dr. Mike Ryan, said that scientists are also trying to determine the duration of protection antibodies might give a coronavirus infected person.
He said, “It is still unknown and not sure if someone with antibodies is completely protected against having the disease or can be exposed again. There are issues with sensitivity in some of the tests. The possibility of a false negative result is there.
There was a rising concern earlier this week that patients might not develop immunity after surviving Covid-19 infection after the WHO officials said not all people who recover from Covid-19 have the antibodies to fight a second infection.
Ryan said, “I believe we do not have the answers regarding recovery and then reinfection.”
Kerkhove said that some patients had a very high response, and some had no detectable antibody response, in a preliminary study of patients in Shanghai. It is a separate question when it comes to whether the patient who had a strong antibody response was immune to a second infection.
WHO Coronavirus Testing Warning