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FDA: Covid antibody tests CANNOT prove you are immune to virus from prior infection OR vaccination

Covid antibody tests CANNOT prove you are immune to the virus from prior infection OR vaccination, FDA warns

  • The FDA warned Wednesday that relying on antibodies for protection from COVID-19 may leave people vulnerable
  • A vaccine is still needed to confirm immunity from the effects of the virus
  • Positive antibody tests also won’t work as a substitute for proof of vaccination because the blood screening looks for different proteins than shots trigger  
  • Brief comes as vaccine progress in the United States slows down 

Testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies is not sufficient replacement for receiving the vaccine, according to a briefing released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday.  

The tests can determine whether or not an individual has had the virus in the past by looking for signs of the immune response. 

At least 33 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and some have argued that have already had the illness should be counted toward America’s progress to herd immunity. 

While antibodies can give some immune protection to a person, the FDA urges Americans to still receive the COVID-19 vaccine despite the antibodies in order to fully protect themselves from the effects of the virus. 

And the type of antibodies that vaccines trigger are not detectable by tests designed to tell who has already infected, so the blood test likely won’t confirm that someone has been vaccinated (functioning like a pseudo-immunity passport).  

So far, 60 percent of U.S. adults have had at least one dose of Covid vaccines and nearly 38 percent of people aged 18 or older have been fully vaccinated. 

The FDA encourages Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, even if they have tested positive for antibodies that combat the virus. It is estimated that around a fifth of unvaccinated Americans have COVID-19 antibodies

‘Antibody tests can play an important role in identifying individuals who may have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and may have developed an adaptive immune response. However, antibody tests should not be used at this time to determine immunity or protection against COVID-19 at any time, and especially after a person has received a COVID-19 vaccination,’ the FDA said in a statement.

‘The FDA will continue to monitor the use of authorized SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests for purposes other than identifying people with an adaptive immune response to SARS-CoV-2 from a recent or prior infection.’

The FDA said that antibodies provided by the vaccines are different than those a person will form by just contracting COVID-19, and will give needed protection that the regular antibodies do not. 

But the tests also aren’t all designed to detect the exact type of antibodies that vaccines trigger, so they won’t function as proof of vaccination either. 

The FDA said that people who have been vaccinated after recovering from COVID-19 will test negative for antibodies if the test isn’t designed to detect the specific vaccines triggered by the shot.  

Data collected by the American Red Cross through blood donations suggests that a fifth of unvaccinated Americans have COVID-19 antibodies. 

Vaccine progress in the United States has slowed down despite children aged 12 to 15 recently becoming eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Nearly half of Americans have received at least one shot of the vaccine

Vaccine progress in the United States has slowed down despite children aged 12 to 15 recently becoming eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Nearly half of Americans have received at least one shot of the vaccine

The briefing comes as the United States’ vaccine rollout progress has slowed down in recent weeks, and some who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 or the antibodies do not believe getting vaccinated is necessary.  

The FDA is saying otherwise and encouraging all Americans to get vaccinated if they are able to do so. 

Daily vaccine distribution in the country slowly increased from December to mid-April.  

The trend came to a halt in the latter half of April, though, and has since reversed with a less-and-less vaccines being administered across the nation every day. 

The reversal has posed a challenge to health officials as they attempt to combat vaccine skepticism and spread more information on the safety of the approved vaccines. 

More Americans are eligible for the vaccine than ever before as well, with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine being approved for emergency use for children aged 12 to 15 last week. 

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed yesterday that over 600,000 children between 12 and 15 have received the vaccine since it became eligible to them last week.

Almost half of Americans have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday afternoon.

More than a third of Americans are considered fully vaccinated from the virus. 

Experts estimate that 60 percent or more Americans will need to be vaccinated in order to reach nationwide ‘herd immunity’.  

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