Despite the hype, Canada takes slow approach to COVID-19 antibody testing

A COVID-19 antibody test is seen in this image from a demonstrative video.

Date Published: April 14, 2020

Source: CTV

While traditional COVID-19 testing involves using a nasal swab to directly detect the virus, blood tests for antibodies to detect the immune system’s response to the virus are being rapidly developed. Tests of this sort are already being used in Europe and the U.S. with variable reports of accuracy. Antibody testing allows doctors to tell if a patient has developed an immunity to COVID-19 which could potentially allow immune healthcare workers to return to work, lifting the burden on the healthcare system. However, Health Canada has stated that these tests would not be available in Canada until a “national strategy” on antibody testing can be developed, an approach based on the WHO recommendation to be cautious of the accuracy of antibody testing. Some clinicians and experts in Canada urge that although antibody testing may not be accurate enough for diagnosis, large scale testing can help determine how much infection is present in the community.

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Summary by: Sophia Duon