Cochrane, a global independent organisation that reviews evidence from research to inform health decision-making, is publishing a review of studies looking at the accuracy of COVID-19 antibody tests.
This is the first version of the review – the team are continuously updating this and other reviews to provide a critical summary of the worldwide evidence supporting use of tests for COVID-19 over the months to come.
What does the evidence say about how well these tests are able to detect antibodies to the virus in people who have them?
The first version of the review contains all studies published before May; this review will not contain any data on the Roche or Abbott tests, so the briefing won’t be able to address those tests specifically.Much of the data in the review comes from studies from China. Further updates of the review in the coming weeks will look at the Roche, Abbott and many other tests.
Journalists dialled into this online briefing to put questions to the review authors and to hear them discuss aspects such as:
– can any of these antibody tests reliably show whether a person has had the virus?
– does the data show which tests work better?
– what do studies show about sensitivity and specificity of these tests?
– what about false positives and false negatives?
– does timing of the test have an impact on its ability to detect antibodies?
– do we know whether the tests work as well for people who have had mild disease or no symptoms?
– is there enough data available to make firm conclusions about these tests?
– do the results presented here apply to the tests being used in the UK?
– will we ever have an accurate ‘have I had it?’ test for COVID-19?
Prof Jon Deeks, Professor of Biostatistics and head of the Biostatistics, Evidence Synthesis and Test Evaluation Research Group, University of Birmingham, and lead author of the review
Dr Jac Dinnes, Senior Researcher in the Unit of Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Birmingham, and co-author of the review
Dr Michael Brown, Department of Emergency Medicine at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and part of the editorial team for this review
This Briefing was accompanied by an SMC Roundup of Comments