COVID-19 FAQ #10: Should Myeloma patients undergo routine COVID-19 antibody testing?
The tenth episode of his ten episode COVID-19 FAQ series, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie discusses the COVID-19 antibody test, and if it is useful for myeloma patients
Routine COVID-19 antibody testing is not currently recommended for myeloma patients.
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Videos in the COVID-19 Series
- FAQ #1: How can myeloma pts reduce the possibility of being exposed to the coronavirus?
- FAQ #2: What do myeloma patients need to know about COVID-19?
- FAQ #3: Do myeloma patients need to adjust their treatment?
- FAQ #4: What are some of the treatment modifications myeloma patients should consider?
- FAQ #5: What are the risk factors that could lead myeloma patients to develop serious consequences from the COVID-19 infection?
- FAQ #6: What precautions should myeloma patients take when getting their groceries?
- FAQ #7: Is it safe for myeloma patients to take walks?
- FAQ #8: Is physical distancing still recommended for myeloma patients?
- FAQ #9: Can myeloma patients avoid contracting the COVID-19 infection?
- FAQ #10: Should Myeloma patients undergo routine COVID-19 antibody testing?
- FAQ #11: Are MGUS and smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) patients considered to be at higher risk for severe consequences from a COVID-19 infection?
- FAQ #12: If a myeloma patient takes Revlimid® (lenalidomide) as maintenance treatment, should this patient continue with that treatment during the pandemic?
- FAQ #13: Is it safe for myeloma patients to resume in-person doctors' visits?
This “Ask Dr. Durie” is another common question, “should a patient with myeloma have the antibody test for COVID-19?”
And, the answer to this is probably not. The current antibody tests for COVID-19 are still unreliable, meaning that sometimes you could have a false positive or a false negative. And so, this is not really helpful to guide decision making.
However, it is quite important for antibody testing to be done in the study of a community. And so, if there is an ongoing project within the town or city that you live, and there’s a request to do the antibody testing to see how many individuals have been exposed to COVID-19. This is valid, and actually very helpful.
But, the most important thing to be aware of is that the presence of the antibodies does not mean that you’re immune to the COVID-19 infection. It just means that you have been exposed. And so, this is extremely important to be alert to.
And so, if you have a positive antibody test, this still does not mean that are fully safe to re-mingle back in society, in the workplace or even in the myeloma clinic if you go for a visit. And so, very, very important to be aware of this aspect.
Now, for individuals other than myeloma patients who may have been exposed to COVID-19, the antibody test is very important. And the reason for that is that individuals who have had COVID-19 infection and have developed antibodies, those individuals have what is called immune plasma, or immune serum. This plasma is very, very, helpful and trials are going on right now to see if this plasma can really be helpful to patients in the recovery process. And, initial results with these plasma treatments have been quite encouraging. And so, this type of antibody testing is important and useful.
However, the routine testing for myeloma patients is not currently recommended.
Dr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.