AntibodiesAntibody Tests May Hold Clues to COVID-19 Exposure, Immunity—but It's Complicated

Published 16 April 2020

As the nation looks for ways to emerge from the shelter-in-place orders instituted across the country, there’s growing hope that our blood might hold clues for how we move forward. Chris Dall writes in CIDRAP that late last week, the National Institutes of Health (NIHannounced that it has begun recruiting volunteers for a study to determine how many Americans without a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, based on the presence of antibodies in their blood. Antibody tests, while not useful for diagnostic purposes because of the time it takes to produce an antibody response, could indicate those who’ve had the illness at some point but never received official confirmation of infection, and those who’ve had very mild or even asymptomatic (symptom-free) infections. But experts say there remains a numbers of unknowns that need to be addressed.