Labs are offering COVID-19 antibody tests, do you really need one?

Coronavirus

A staff member takes blood for an antibody test in Budapest, Thursday , July 8, 2021. Hungary’s capital city is offering free antibody testing to its elderly residents, a bid to pressure the central government to take action over concerns that certain COVID-19 vaccines do not provide adequate protection against the virus. (AP Photo/Laszlo Balogh)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- The word ‘antibodies’ is used in a lot of conversations regarding COVID-19. They are proteins your immune system builds to fight infections. When it comes to the virus, your body makes them after you’ve been infected or after you get your COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Antibody testing has been advertised at labs and pharmacies. The tests come with a wide range of costs. Harris Teeter charges $25, while Atrium Health will charge you $80 and Any Lab Test Now sells them for $129.

Do you really need them? According to the CDC, it’s mostly no.

The CDC’s guidance does not recommend them to diagnose a current infection. They also have not recommended them to determine if you’re immune to COVID-19.

“You do not need a test for antibodies. It is unnecessary time and cost and does not assure you have sufficient antibodies and for the exact duration,” Dr. Lisa Pickett at Duke Health said.

The FDA also warned that if interpreted incorrectly, there is a potential risk that people may take fewer precautions against COVID-19, increasing their chances of getting infected.

“We do know that the more antibodies you have the better the protection, but we don’t know the absolute number of antibodies that confer protection like we do with other diseases like the Hepatitis B vaccine,” Dr. David Weber at the UNC School of Medicine said.

Weber said an antibody test couldn’t tell you how much or how little you’re protected and he FDA said more research is needed to understand the meaning of a positive or negative antibody test.

“We really just have to rely on having had a vaccine and if you’re immunocompromised, going and getting your third dose,” Weber said.

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