CDC warns COVID-19 antibody tests can be inaccurate

Agency releases new guidelines

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidelines that question the accuracy of COVID-19 antibody tests.

The tests, also called serologic tests, are supposed to determine if someone has been infected with the virus in the past, but they can be wrong up to half the time according to newly released guidelines on the CDC’s website.

“Serologic testing should not be used to determine immune status in individuals until the presence, durability and duration of immunity is established,” according to the CDC.

Florida’s overall percent positive for coronavirus is about 5.6% according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

“In a population where the prevalence is 5%, a test with 90% sensitivity and 95% specificity will yield a positive predictive value of 49%. In other words, less than half of those testing positive will truly have antibodies,” according to the CDC.

The public health agency added the tests are not accurate enough to make important policy decisions.

“Serologic test results should not be used to make decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities,” its guidelines state.

At the Orange County Convention Center, the tests are given for free to first responders and healthcare workers, who are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19.

"Test results should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace,” according to the CDC.

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