This lede is admittedly a tease, but we can’t help feeling hopeful as vaccinations continue to roll-out and we return back to the office here at Q Bio. When we first closed down our offices and our Q Center to go into shelter-in-place on March 11, 2020, we also started researching the early clinical tests and data available to determine what we could do to help our employees, our members, and our community. In addition to quickly procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) and at-home RT-PCR saliva tests for active monitoring and safety, we also researched serological SARS-CoV-2 antibody titer test options.
When we re-opened our service in May 2020 with all new safety and hygiene policies in place, we also offered these new tests to members as part of our Q Exam. At that time, antibody tests early in the pandemic helped members confirm whether that “really bad cold” they had in late February really was COVID or not, and whether they already potentially had antibodies from COVID exposure. Our goal, as always, is to provide clinically-relevant data to our members and their chosen care providers to empower them to make informed decisions and have peace of mind.
Today, as we see more and more members who have been vaccinated coming back into our center, the information value of this antibody test is no longer as relevant. We are seeing presence of antibody titers due to either past infection or a positive result from vaccination, and “false positives” or “false negatives” depending on how different people have reacted to the vaccine. The test was meant for confirming the presence of antibodies from having had an active case of SARS-CoV-2. The test was not meant for confirming whether vaccination is effective. The amazing science behind mRNA stimulates production of protein spikes that prepare the body to fight the virus, but it does not necessarily mean that the body will have a full immune response to actual SARS-CoV-2 virus. In short, we are not testing for protein spikes production or overall immune response and this is confusing and anxiety-inducing. More importantly, the information from this test also doesn’t change recommended behavior and is not recommended by CDC to assess immunity.
The best recommendation: get vaccinated.
So it is a sign of our hopeful times that, as of today, April 19, 2021, — almost a year to the date when we first started sourcing and procuring tests, — we are happy to retire the blood COVID antibody titer test. To all our members and Q Bio friends here in California, with vaccines now available for everyone ages 16 and older, if you haven’t already, go check out myturn.ca.gov and get your shot!