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What is COVID-19 antibody testing (and why is it useful?)

28/05/2020

What is COVID-19 antibody testing (and why is it useful?)

There have been numerous reports recently about how both the European Union and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have now approved certain COVID-19 antibody tests. But what are these tests for and are they useful in the overall fight against the pandemic?


An antibody test basically checks your blood for antibodies. These are made when your body fights an infection, like if you had COVID-19. The test isn’t actually looking for the infection itself, rather signs that your body has built a defense against it i.e. you had the infection and your body responded accordingly.


One of the valuable outcomes of antibody tests is that they help us ascertain just how many people have potentially had the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This helps build a fuller picture of the virus’ spread, as well as calculate how many people there are out there who could still potentially get it. Such information could help in the development of strategies to safeguard communities and possibly allow for more freedom of movement.


Antibody tests could also help identify individuals who have had COVID-19 and whose blood could be used to help those fighting the disease.


[Related reading: Losing sleep over the COVID-19 outbreak? These 5 tips will help]

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