Literatus: Covid-19 antibody testing debate

·2 min read

In my last entry two weeks ago, we established that RT-PCR technology can falsely detect positive Covid-19 disease remnants of Sars-CoV-2 fragments—such as genetic materials, especially RNA—left in the person’s cells and report it as current infection.

This is so because RT-PCR reports positivity for a median of 22 to 33 days, while the contagious period for Covid-19 is only for four to eight days, researchers Mina, Peto, Semple and Buchan reported in the April 17 issue of The Lancet. Therefore, these recent surges of positive cases in many provinces in the country came from previously infected Filipinos whose immune system defeated the virus and are no longer infectious.

This also means that community transmission is already a reality in the country, which is not necessarily a problem unless it increases symptomatic cases. In fact, asymptomatic patients that survived without symptoms for 30 days surely succeeded in fighting off the virus and no longer need vaccination because they already are naturally immunized.

The goal of vaccination is to immunize. If a person is already naturally immunized, then vaccination is an unnecessary waste of money and even a risk for reinfection with a different strain in the vaccination line, which is often a meter apart.

The more realistic approach now is not RT-PCR testing but IgM antibody testing or any equivalent serological analysis for Sars-CoV-2 membrane proteins or CD4+ T cells, which rises fast in the early stages of infection or within eight to 14 days from the appearance of symptoms.

After this period, these antibodies, proteins or T cells gradually decline.

Pre-vaccination antibody testing, therefore, helps Filipinos determine if they have any need for vaccination. For those who are antibody negative, then vaccination is a wiser preventive option.

However, it is unwise to tell Filipinos not to have themselves tested for Covid-19 antibodies because the information is crucial, even after having been vaccinated. The correct advice is to inform Filipinos when to best have themselves tested for antibodies because antibodies do not develop in huge volumes after 24 hours.

Evidence indicates that testing for Covid-19 antibodies after 15 days can be more meaningful. Advising Filipinos not to have themselves tested for antibodies is bad advice.

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