BENGALURU: Health professionals have called for the general public to get antibody tests done before and after taking a shot of the Covid vaccine, both for research purposes and possibly to help reduce hesitancy.
However, other experts disagree, calling them unscientific and unnecessary. Given that the pandemic is ongoing, “it is a logical step to conduct antibody tests”, says Dr Kavitha MP, lead consultant at the department of microbiology and molecular biology at Aster Labs.
“This can only make reporting robust and help analyse variation levels. They can also prove beneficial if conducted before administering a vaccine as it can help clinicians know the starting levels of antibodies a person has and it can assist in evaluating any change in antibody levels that the vaccine induces, especially the development of antibodies directed against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein,” she said.
Dr Sujay Prasad, medical director of Neuberg Anand Reference Laboratory, said, “I have always been of the view that antibody tests should be done before and after the vaccine is given.”He said that 160 of 180 of their staff had undergone antibody tests before and after the first vaccine shot, and will do again after the second one. “Many were even surprised to see that they had high antibody levels and were infected with the virus even though they did not know that they were positive. If we see the antibodies increase before the first and after second dose, we can assume the vaccines work,” he said.
Authorities at Ramaiah Memorial Hospital will carry out antibody tests on its staff who have been vaccinated.
“We will look at the presence of antibodies after two weeks in people who have taken the shot. This will help us know better how the vaccine has worked,” said Dr Naresh Shetty, president of Ramaiah Memorial Hospital.
However, Dr Giridhar Babu, member of the state expert committee, said the tests were not necessary.
“It will be an additional cost. Antibody tests are qualitative and not quantitative. It will not be useful. At the individual level if one wants to get it done, it will work. But in terms of public health action, it is not advisable,” he said.
CEO of Prakriya Hospitals Dr Srinivas Chirukuri too held similar views.
“Generally, companies test vaccine efficacy through trials. Unfortunately due to lack of time, we are yet to learn about the benefits of the vaccine. Doing random antibody tests on individuals is not a scientific way of ascertaining efficacy,” he said.