CDC: anti-coronavirus antibodies may confer “short-term immunity”, but more data needed

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Anti-coronavirus antibody tests are still relatively unreliable, and it is unclear whether people who contract the virus are immune to the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Tuesday.

What they say: The agency has explicitly warned against using antibody tests to determine whether a person should return to work or group people in schools or prisons.

  • Although some evidence suggests that having the coronavirus before could create “short-term immunity”, it is still unclear whether the presence of COVID-19 antibodies provides protection against the virus, the agency said.
  • Social distances and face masks are always essential and should not be avoided depending on whether or not you have anti-coronavirus antibodies. More data would be needed for these changes, the agency said.

Between the lines, via Caitlin Owens of Axios: updated CDC guidelines point out that even effective antibody tests are likely to have high false positive rates, as few people have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The big picture: The CDC’s caution comes after confirming last week that it is combining the results of diagnostic and screening tests for coronaviruses. This distorts data about the spread of the virus, which is one of the main uses of antibody testing.

  • It also follows a warning from the American Medical Association that antibody tests that identify those who have already contracted the coronavirus should not be used to determine immunity.

Go further: FDA blocks sale of 29 anti-coronavirus antibody tests in the United States

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