Testing for antibodies after vaccination: useful or not? – Health

Antibody tests would allegedly be able to estimate whether someone is actually immune after vaccination or not. This sounds interesting to many, while according to others it has little or no added value. What about now?

In addition to the PCR tests that detect corona infections, there are also so-called antibody tests or serological tests. In contrast to PCR tests, which detect viral material to determine whether you are infected, serological tests are used to look for antibodies against the virus in the blood.

Such tests are often used to determine whether a person has been infected with a particular virus in the past or to determine whether a vaccination has effectively elicited an immune response. Just think of the determination of antibodies against, among other things, the cytomegaly virus (CMV) in pregnant women or the antibody determination. hepatitis B vaccination in healthcare personnel.

The question therefore arises whether these tests can also be useful in the current vaccination campaign. Can they be used to check whether someone is really immune to the virus or to estimate who will or will not need additional doses (in the long run)?

What do we currently know?

While these tests seem like useful allies in the fight against the coronavirus, their use is not widely recommended by experts. After all, there are a few pitfalls:

  • Firstly, we currently do not know from which concentration of antibodies you are protected. The test can tell whether you have antibodies and how many you have, but nobody can tell you whether there are enough.
  • In addition, not all antibodies produced are equally effective. To eliminate the virus, you need neutralizing or disease-preventing antibodies. The currently available antibody tests cannot distinguish such antibodies from the others.
  • Antibodies can also disappear from the blood over time, but that does not mean that you have lost all protection. Immunity is not only determined by antibodies but also by immune cells. These are not detected with the serological tests.

In short, the immunity that you build up after an infection or after vaccination is too complex to be able to make a good estimate via one test. These tests would only show part of the story.

Conclusion

Serological tests or antibody tests show only part of a complex whole. Since we do not know from what concentration of antibodies in the blood protection against disease is guaranteed, it makes little sense to use these tests.

Read more on Health and Science

In addition to the PCR tests that detect corona infections, there are also so-called antibody tests or serological tests. In contrast to PCR tests, which detect viral material to check whether you are infected, serological tests look for antibodies against the virus in the blood. Such tests are often used to determine whether someone is in the have already been infected with a particular virus in the past or to check whether a vaccination has effectively led to an immune response. Just think of the determination of antibodies against, among other things, the cytomegaly virus (CMV) in pregnant women or the determination of antibodies after hepatitis B vaccination in healthcare personnel. The question therefore arises whether these tests can also be useful in the current vaccination campaign. Can they be used to check whether someone is really immune to the virus or to estimate who (in the long term) will or will not need additional doses? Although these tests seem useful allies in the fight against the coronavirus, its use is not generally recommended by experts. After all, there are a few pitfalls: In short, the immunity that you build up after an infection or after vaccination is too complex to be able to make a good estimate via one test. These tests would only show part of the story.Read more on Health and Science

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