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Should I get tested for COVID-19 antibodies? Can antibody testing tell whether someone has been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19?

Last Updated: 05/20/2020

Antibodies are produced by the body to fight infection and can be found in the blood.

If a person's blood is found to have antibodies to a particular virus or bacteria, then it is likely they were exposed in the past. It is even possible, but by no means certain, that they may now be immune to that type of infection.

Antibody testing relies on obtaining a blood sample and is often called "serology" or "serologic testing."

The numerous products that have recently become available to test for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the specific coronavirus that causes COVID-19, have significant issues associated with them.

There is still a lot about the serology of SARS-CoV-2 that remains unknown. The New Jersey Department of Health recommends against using any antibody testing to attempt to diagnose current or past infection with SARS-CoV-2.

A positive result on a SARS-CoV-2 antibody test should not be viewed as evidence of immunity to or past infection with COVID-19.

The CDC has developed a laboratory blood test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, but that test is designed as a research tool that will give public health officials more information needed to guide the response to the pandemic. The test is not currently designed to test individuals who want to know if they have been previously infected with COVID-19.