In advance of public vaccination, a quick and accurate COVID-19 antibody test will help determine the presence of neutralizing antibodies, the molecules that aid in protection against the virus. (Credit: University of Alabama at Birmingham)

A new diagnostic test is an accurate and reliable method for determining whether individuals are protected against COVID-19. The technology identifies neutralizing antibodies — those that block the virus from infecting cells. Emerging research suggests neutralizing antibodies offer the best protection against the virus.

To create the new test, researchers began breaking down the COVID-19 virus into small pieces to identify the exact locations where antibodies attached to the virus. The results were better than anticipated, with the test detecting 20 percent more positive cases than the current gold-standard clinical antibody test.

Immunity to COVID-19 is not anticipated to last forever, and immunity monitoring could continue for several years, even after widespread administration of a vaccine. Antibody testing helps determine efficacy and should help indicate whether a person is protected against the virus.