In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as accurate testing for the virus is in short supply across the globe. This leaves an opportunity to provide information to patients and healthcare providers about exposure and infection timelines through antibody testing.
To add to the problem, nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs – considered the gold-standard for diagnosing the infection – which are tested for RT-PCR (a type of RNA test for the viral genetic material) are notoriously inaccurate when collected and stored/transported improperly, and can average an accuracy rate of only 63.45% when collected within the first 14 days after infection and that can drop to only about 52% accurate after day 14. 
That means that NP swab alone misses an average of 36.5-48% of patients with COVID-19 infections, depending on what time-point in the infection they are tested…that’s almost half!
Perhaps it is time to include additional testing methods in the standard diagnostic procedures for COVID-19 infections. And antibody tests may just be the answer to this problem. But, you may be unfamiliar with what antibodies are, and why they are potentially the most valuable tool in a healthcare provider’s toolbox during this time.
Also, as we will see, not all antibody tests are created equal.
1) Gary R. Klimpel. Medical Microbiology. 4th edition.Baron S, editor.Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996