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An EMT sorts through blood samples to test for COVID-19 antibodies at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York City on May 14. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Antibody tests that identify those who have previously contracted the coronavirus should not be used to determine immunity, the American Medical Association cautioned in a Thursday report.

The big picture: Antibody tests help medical workers find out how widespread the coronavirus is in a given community, which New York state has pursued in recent weeks. These tests detect the antibodies the body produces when it fights off a coronavirus infection, but scientists don't know whether that translates into immunity, or how long such immunity might last.

What they're saying: The FDA "does not automatically independently verify performance" of antibody tests after granting them emergency authorization, the AMA writes — and tests that are not commercially marketed do not require FDA authorization.

  • Antibody tests should not be used as justification for returning for work or discontinuing social distancing practices, the AMA says.

Where it stands: Roughly 12 commercial antibody tests have received emergency authorization by the FDA, while over 120 others are currently on the market, the AMA writes.

Go deeper: Coronavirus antibody tests see reliability and availability problems

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Aug 21, 2020 - Health

Hospitals still suing patients in coronavirus hotspots

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As millions of Americans lost their jobs and fell sick with the coronavirus this summer, hospitals in some of the hardest-hit states were getting back to the business of suing their patients.

Why it matters: The Americans least likely to be able to pay their medical bills are the same people who are vulnerable to the virus and its economic fallout.

Biden says he would issue nationwide stay-at-home order in face of COVID-flu nightmare

Joe Biden accepts the Democratic Party nomination on Aug. 20. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden told ABC News on Friday that, if elected, he would issue a nationwide stay-at-home order at the recommendation of scientists if coronavirus infections surged in January alongside the flu season.

Why it matters: The country's coronavirus crisis could worsen this winter if hospitals are overwhelmed with patients requiring care from COVID-19 at the same time as the flu. The severity of the influenza season also depends on how many Americans get flu shots.