After a lengthy delay by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), three of SA’s leading pathology labs have been approved to offer COVID-19 antibody tests to the public, despite reservations on the accuracy of some tests and who they should be reserved for.
According to reports, the recently-approved antibody tests are a lot cheaper than the gold-standard (RT-PCR) test, which is used to test for active infections. But they’re not suggested for everyone and will require a Doctor’s referral.
While you may be tempted to find out whether or not you may have already caught the virus (but were asymptomatic), some medical experts have said that they aren’t really worth the money just yet.
Not only do the antibody tests fail at detecting active cases but a positive test result only means that it’s “very likely” that the patient has or had Covid-19, and developed an immune response.
Some have also argued that the antibody tests are essential in the fight against the coronavirus and should not be used to satiate curiosity.
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There is also still so much uncertainty around COVID immunity and reinfections at this point that the public are being urged not to use their antibody test results to influence decisions or relax their protective measures.
According to a press release by Pathcare Laboratory, the public should note that there is currently “no sufficient evidence to correlate the detection of antibodies with immune protection. A positive antibody test result should therefore not be regarded as proof of immunity and must not be used to reduce or abandon protective measures.”
Despite the many reservations, three of the country’s leading pathology laboratories are now offering approved antibody tests. Covid-19 antibody tests are conducted by means of a blood sample and strictly require a Doctor’s referral.
Here’s what you will pay for an antibody test at one of SA’s leading pathology labs:
- Ampath: R230
- Pathcare: R224.10 (24-hour turnaround time in Gauteng and Western Cape, 48 hours elsewhere)
- Lancet: R230 (24 hours from sample arrival in Johannesburg)
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