As U.S. government officials begin debating the right steps in easing restrictions due to the novel coronavirus, antibody tests have been touted as the key to returning to normal. This particular type of test can detect whether or not a person has developed antibodies against COVID-19, which would reveal whether a person was infected and recovered — even if they did not exhibit symptoms. Officials hope to use antibody testing to gain more clarity on the spread and deadliness of the virus. Others hope to determine the number of individuals that potentially have some level of immunity, toying with the idea of issuing “immunity passports” for people who test positive. Some experts now warn that these promises are premature. The World Health Organization cautioned against instituting “immunity passports,” saying there is insufficient evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected from a second infection. Amid the haste to develop antibody testing, we may be setting ourselves up for disaster. “Testing is not a panacea. Testing is a tool and no test is perfect. What people are looking for does not exist,” said Dr. Alan Wells, executive vice chairman of the section of Laboratory Medicine at University of Pittsburgh


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