Briefing paper

This paper responds to a request for advice on the predictive value of serological antibody tests and the comparability of point-of-care tests to laboratory tests.

Main findings:

  • Point-of-care (POC) and laboratory-based serological tests can be used to detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Globally, health authorities are evaluating their use to determine individual immunity, the prevalence of infection in the population, to aid in diagnosis, to aid in contact tracing, and to inform when restrictions can be eased.
  • Laboratory-based tests are both quantitative and qualitative. POC tests deliver only a positive or negative result; or a semi-quantitative result at best.
  • Neither type of serological test is currently ready for widespread deployment. However rapid advances can be expected.
  • With respect to immunity, the interpretation of serological antibody tests relies on a clear understanding of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2, which currently remains undefined.
Publication Details