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Fraudulent antibody tests are in the Austin area, city leader warns

While the tests can provide insightful information into the virus, Dr. Mark Escott with APH worries too many fraudulent tests are on the market right now.

AUSTIN, Texas — As new developments continue to arise for COVID-19 testing in Central Texas, the head of Austin Public Health (APH) warns against purchasing antibody tests right now.

In a work session on Tuesday, April 23, Dr. Mark Escott, the interim medical director health authority for APH, discouraged people from taking a serological test, more commonly known as an antibody test. 

"I think the community should be very aware of the antibody testing that's currently being successfully marketed across the state of Texas. These antibody tests are not FDA approved and they are not accurate," he said. 

An antibody test is designed to detect COVID-19 antibodies in a person's blood, which indicates if they were ever exposed to or recovered from the virus.

Some tests in the area are FDA approved, but not many. 

The popularity of antibody tests is growing across the country as researchers and health leaders attempt to track the virus, but Escott believes companies are trying to fill the gap for people who want to know if they have COVID-19. 

The antibody test is not beneficial for that. 

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"So they are offering a test that doesn't tell you if you're sick right now, it doesn't tell you if you can expose others," he said.

In addition, Escott said these tests may identify the wrong coronavirus.

"In fact, a lot of these tests have substantial cross-reactivity with five other extremely common coronaviruses," he said. 

Earlier this month, state health officials also insisted people exercise caution using these tests.

On Tuesday, Escott said he contacted the Department of State Health Services to look into the issue and is asking the Attorney General's Office to address it as well as to ensure that people aren't scammed out of significant money.

If you are interested in getting tested for coronavirus, here is an in-depth list of locations offering testing in the area. 

WATCH: More antibody tests approved 

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