The American Medical Association is warning doctors against using tests designed to identify people already exposed to the coronavirus to make healthcare decisions for individual patients.
Antibody tests — also known as serological testing — are emerging for the novel coronavirus. The tests, which are being developed by private lab companies and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, are being touted to determine the prevalence of COVID-19.
While the AMA acknowledges the tests offer important information throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the lobbying group also warns that physicians shouldn't use the test to determine a patient's immunity to the virus.
"Doing so may lead individuals to falsely assume they can stop physical distancing and further the spread of illness," AMA President Dr. Patrice A. Harris said in a statement.
The AMA claims there are "inherent limitations" with the antibody tests. For example, the tests can show false positives or identify other coronaviruses rather than SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, it's still unknown if prior exposure to the coronavirus results in immunity for a recovered individual.
Given the limitations of the tests, the AMA said in guidance they should only be used as part of a larger population-level studies. Additionally, doctors should only use tests approved by the FDA.