Not all patients that have been infected with the coronavirus test positive for antibodies, raising questions as to the effectiveness of tests used to determine who has the virus, research published Monday found, UK news site The Independent reported.
The study found that between 2 and 8.5 percent of 177 patients who all tested positive for coronavirus did not test positive for coronavirus antibodies, The Independent said.
Antibody testing has been considered an important step in allowing countries to emerge from lockdown, as it would help determine who has and has not had the virus.
Antibodies are manufactured by the body when it is fighting an illness and continue to be made even after a recovery.
Some government and medical figures have suggested that a person who tests positive for antibodies but has recovered from the virus would not be able to catch it again. This would allow recovered patients to continue about their life normally.
Professor Sanjeev Krishna, a lead researcher in the study, urged caution with this line of thinking, however, telling The Independent that more research was needed to determine whether or not those with antibodies were protected from further infection.
“The best way to establish that would be take people who do have detectable antibodies and then see, when they are exposed to infection, just what their chances are of getting another infection. That sort of process would take time and may also take a higher risk of infection than – thank goodness – we have right now,” Krishna said, The Independent reported.
Research into other coronavirus testing methods have also raised alarms. Last week, a study found that the main coronavirus test that is supposed to tell if a person is infected or not produces false positives at least 20 percent of the time.