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Parliamentary questions
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23 September 2021
Answer given by Ms Kyriakides
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-003576/2021

On 10 May 2021, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) issued a technical note to inform the discussions on the possible use of antibody tests in the context of the EU Digital COVID Certificate(1). The content of this document still applies. ECDC and JRC are continuously monitoring developments around antibody tests and their usage.

As per the ECDC/JRC note, antibody tests are mostly used in research studies at population level. A positive antibody test result can be a proof of a past infection, without providing any indication of the time of infection, and cannot exclude an ongoing infection.

Therefore, it is not proof that a person is not infectious and/or protected against a new infection and/or cannot transmit the virus further. Even if antibody tests provide some evidence of an immune response, they do not establish whether the antibodies offer sufficient protection or for how long such protection would last given that they cannot determine when the infection took place.

This is why in the regulation that was agreed by Parliament and Council, the co-legislators have based the recovery certificates on a positive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-test for a maximum of 180 days. Finally, there are a large number of antibody tests with very little standardisation. This makes a comparison of their results and their recognition across Member States extremely difficult.

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