For the past few weeks, more than 50 scientists have been working diligently to do something that the Food and Drug Administration mostly has not: Verifying that 14 coronavirus antibody tests now on the market actually deliver accurate results.
These tests are crucial to reopening the economy, but public health experts have raised urgent concerns about their quality. The new research, completed just days ago and posted online Friday, confirmed some of those fears: Of the 14 tests, only three delivered consistently reliable results. Even the best had some flaws…
Even these three tests detected antibodies in infected people only 90 percent of the time, at best.
The false-positive metric is particularly important. The result may lead people to believe themselves immune to the virus when they are not, and to put themselves in danger by abandoning social distancing and other protective measures.