COVID-19 Antibody Testing Offered at Patient First

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Researchers searched through over 11,000 publications on COVID-19 available at the end of April 2020, and identified 54 relevant studies from Asia, Europe, and the U.S. - that measured the accuracy of antibody tests used to detect current or past COVID-19 infection - whether in hospital or the community.

"Understanding the immune response is paramount to finding the best treatments", says Dr. Fraser "Our next step is to test drugs that block the harmful effects of several of these molecules while still allowing the immune system to fight the virus".

Many studies assessing the accuracy of COVID-19 antibody tests had major shortcomings, a review released on Thursday concluded, offering further evidence the blood tests are of little use for people seeking to know with certainty if they have been infected. In this observation, it was found that COVID-19 infection was present in the surroundings of 2 asymptomatic patients. There were not enough data to compare the accuracy of different tests. Tests of the IgG and IgM antibodies at 8 to 14 days after onset of symptoms correctly identified only 70% of people who had COVID-19. Antibodies may give full or partial immunity to the virus to which they develop, according to Patient First. Tests to detect antibodies in peoples' blood could show whether they now have COVID-19 or have had it previously.

"It is already very clear from this analysis that antibody testing early in the course of disease is unreliable and thus antibody tests can not, and should not, replace virus detection for diagnosis of acute cases except where the time-course of disease is already well advanced", she said.

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Commercial tests, which ask the user to send a blood sample off to a lab, have been suspended in the United Kingdom and people have been warned not to buy unapproved tests. There are insufficient studies to estimate the sensitivity of antibody tests beyond 35 days after the beginning of symptoms.

807 people would receive a negative test result but 17 (2%) of those people would have COVID-19 (known as false negative result). If in a population about 5% have had COVID-19 - more likely in national surveys - the researchers believe that four infections would be missed for every thousand people tested, and 12 outcomes would be falsely positive.

Volunteers are being sought from NHS staff and other public service workers for a study into the effectiveness of Covid-19 antibody home testing kits.

The research team studied 57 inflammatory molecules. In total these studies reported almost 16,000 test results. It is also highlighted in the study that it is a safe option to place COVID-19 patients in shelter hospitals than keeping them in isolation at home. In one important United Kingdom study the biomarker manufacturers did not approve the identification of the tests that had been evaluated. "However, the design, execution and reporting of studies of the accuracy of COVID-19 tests requires considerable improvement, and action needs to be taken to ensure that all results of test evaluations are available in the public domain and not withheld by test manufacturers to ensure we can provide the best estimates of the accuracy for these tests". The study is published this week in Critical Care Explorations.

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