At the beginning of the pandemic, the FDA allowed many manufacturers to sell rapid antibody tests on an emergency basis without the usual quality testing that would normally be required.
That led to doubts over the accuracy of such tests. The new study is helping clear up any lingering concerns.
Dr. Chase Schuler is an allergist/immunologist at the University of Michigan. His research team set out to determine if three inexpensive finger-prick antibody tests were effective at measuring COVID antibodies.
The study looked at several different point-of-care antibody tests and compared the accuracy against in-lab testing and against the standard COVID PCR testing.
There were some false positives, but two of the rapid antibody tests were accurate between 93 and 97 percent of the time. Both outperformed the third brand, which lost its emergency authorization during the trial.
“What we really found was that the heavily regulated tests by the FDA performed pretty well and the tests that they initially approved and then later rejected didn’t do as well and weren’t as accurate,” Schuler said.
The researchers will continue to follow the people in the study and try to help determine how long COVID antibodies last and how long they continue to offer protection against becoming reinfected.