Zurich, Switzerland: In a news story carried on MSN just a few days ago, Severin Schwan, CEO of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, blasted the quality of many blood tests being marketed to prove immunity to the coronavirus. (You can read the MSN article here.) As a service to our AgingOptions blog readers, we’re bringing you the highlights of this important story to alert you not to fall for fraudulent or misleading COVID-19 testing schemes.
As MSN’s John Miller reports, “Some blood tests being marketed to tell people if they have had the new coronavirus are a ‘disaster’, [Schwan] said on Wednesday.” Roche is preparing to launch its own antibody test next month. These tests, eagerly anticipated by countries around the world, are “meant to show whether people exposed to the disease have developed antibodies thought to offer some immunity,” Miller explains. These data can help restart national economies and protect healthcare workers from the virus.
An erroneous false-positive result in these antibody tests “could lead to the mistaken conclusion that someone has immunity,” says MSN. Roche evaluated several existing products for reliability before rejecting them.
“It’s a disaster. These tests are not worth anything, or have very little use,” Schwan told reporters. “Some of these companies, I tell you, this is ethically very questionable to get out with this stuff.”
The Roche executive said there are roughly 100 antibody tests on the market, and he did not single out specific tests or companies for criticism. Schwan did suggest he was “not referring to tests from established testing companies.” Some of the tests claim to detect coronavirus antibodies using a simple pin prick, but Roche’s planned antibody test “relies on intravenous blood draws taken by a nurse or a doctor,” MSN reports.
Roche did not make specific predictions about the expected accuracy of its own tests, but Schwan did note that Roche researchers had succeeded in isolating coronavirus antibodies, so they know what they’re looking for. “This [accuracy] is really what matters,” Schwan told reporters.
While he didn’t use the term, Schwan did imply that some of the tests out there are outright scams. “Every kind of amateur could produce an antibody test. The two of us could do it overnight in the garage,” he scoffed. “The question is, does it really work?”
The bottom line from AgingOptions: Before you agree to a COVID-19 antibody test, do your homework. Rely on reputable authorities and established companies. We hope reliable testing and eventually an effective vaccine will soon be available, and we’ll be watching for updates to report to you. Meanwhile, stay safe, and age on!
(originally reported at www.msn.com)