We have received numerous inquiries regarding antibody testing. Below is our thoughts and opinion regarding antibody testing as of May 13, 2020. We plan to update this post as we know more information.
The antibody tests, right now, are fraught with difficulty. They are NOT being recommended by physician leadership or the Austin health department due to concerns about specificity and sensitivity, both of which are related to prevalence of disease in a community.
There are a few concerns that we have with antibody testing at this time. The first is in regards to the specificity of the antibodies that are detected. Some of the antibody tests are detecting any coronavirus antibody, not specifically COVID-19. There are 4 common coronaviruses that circulate causing the common cold. Right now, the prevalence is such that there is significant concern about false + antibody tests....which then lead to a false sense of security. Bad information is worse than no information.
Another major drawback of these tests is that they cannot determine whether the detected antibodies provide protection against future infection. This again may potentially lead to a false sense of security and becoming more relaxed on maintaining distance, hand washing, and face covers.
Having said that, Quest is offering antibody testing without doctor's order, but we do not think it's prudent for the reasons noted above.