PCR Tests detect only infection, but Serology test can show the presence of antibodies.
Dubai: UAE introduced the new Serology test which can detect whether a person had developed antibodies against Covid infection. So, this test can easily say if that person is immune to Covid-19. This test has become a big relief to people especially when UAE directed all employees to function their office in full throttle.
What is a serology test?
Mubadala Healthcare Network’s wing, the National Reference Laboratory announced the release of Serology test kits to the local markets, on Tuesday. “When you go back and design a return of work policy, one of the first thing you do is risk assessments. If you have serology tests, then it will tell you the exposure rates of people. Now you will have an educated guess when people are returning to work by identifying the workforce that could potentially be immune”, said Dr Basel Altrabulsi, chief medical officer of the National Reference lab. As per his explanation, the tests work by detecting antibodies in the blood. This tells medics if the individual has previously had the virus, regardless of how severe the symptoms were. He described the test as a ‘powerful tool’ that could assist the front-line workers.
how the results are going to help?
Now the deduction from the test result is on the shoulders of the employers. If majority of the workers have no antibodies, it means that they were not infected. This will prompt the employers to take extra measures to avoid employees from getting infected. This procedure may require more attention in the case of workers in medical field and vital sectors.
Serology and PCr test:
Before Serology, PCR tests were in common to test Covid-19. The PCR test detects whether the virus is present in a specific sample, whereas the serology test can tell if a person has ever had Covid-19. The Ministry stated that the acceptance of Serology test was based on two main advantages it had over PCR. Firstly, Serology test is faster than PCR. Results will be ready from a Serology test within hours. Secondly, Serology tests are 99.95 percent accurate.
Dr. Altrabulsi said that Serology test result can manage the distribution of a vaccine, if invented, only to those who are not having antibodies. He added that further researches are needed to ensure his hypothesis. Guidelines for who will be tested in the UAE are currently being drawn up. But the chance of getting this test to wider public is still low. The test is currently being used to determine if people working in high-risk jobs have been exposed. Dr Laila Wareth, NRL’s Deputy chief executive and chief scientific officer, said the new tests are not meant to replace traditional PCR testing but should be complementary to them.
Demerit of serology test:
On the other hand, Serology test has a demerit. The actions based on the test result will be effective only based on the assumption that a person, once infected with Covid-19 will not be re-infected. Local health authorities said that there were no cases of re-infections in UAE. But there were, although quite a few, cases of re-infection in Brazil, India and Nepal. “The test will tell you who was infected before. We are hesitant to say that they are immune because we still don’t know but we assume they have immunity because the rate of reinfection is very low. If this proves to be truer, then these people can be put back into their work environment and you can identify the high-risk groups and you can, for example, relax restrictions on certain people,” Dr Altrabulsi said.