Coronavirus: are serological tests reliable and effective?

Published by Caroline J., Laurent P. · Published on 22 May 2020 at 14h11 · Updated on 22 May 2020 at 14h13
Since France has started exiting containment, many people are turning to serological tests. Able to find antibodies and find out if we have caught Covid-19 or not, are these tests as effective as we think they are?

If more and more PCR tests have been performed these past weeks in France, the number of serological tests skyrockets. Based on a simple blood test, this test enables to know if someone has caught Covid-19 and developed antibodies. Yet, nothing has been said on immunity.

As of today, several private laboratories provide serological tests. Without prescription, they are not reimbursed by the social security system. Nevertheless, these blood tests are not validated by the health authorities yet.

By the way, they are not considered reliable enough by the government: “The use of serological tests is not recommended or advises for private test, because results are not reliable. They are then not advised and of course, not reimbursed” the Health Minister told our peers at Marianne. As the weekly says, these serological tests are yet not banned because of the European legislation. “These tests are yet not banned, because they enjoy a marketing authorization with the CE marking” the Minister says.

If the government does not consider them reliable, many French people want to get the test to be rest assured.

Interviewed on BFMTV, General Medicine College vice-president Serge Gilberg explains: “tests made are not the ones validated by the HAS [High Health Authority] and the Health Minister. The Who does not recommend them because this is not an immune passport. We have no recommendation; reagents are of an average quality and are not yet validated even though still used”.

If the margin of error is real and estimated at 5% for the most performing tests on the market, and more for the more mediocre tests, the HAS yet reminds in Le Parisien that serological tests are recommended to know the percentage of the population who has caught the virus. As of today, several of theses tests are still experimented.

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