Serology tests direction

Point of Care Serology Tests Direction

This Direction ensures only qualified and approved pathology or health service providers can use serology (blood) tests to detect or diagnose COVID-19.

What does this mean

From 23 April 2020 to the end of the COVID-19 emergency:

  • COVID-19 can only be detected or diagnosed through serology (blood) tests provided by:
    • Pathology Queensland
    • public health services for the Queensland Department of Health or a Hospital and Health Service, or
    • pathology service providers as a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited medical pathology service with accreditation in microbiology

For full details, read the Point of Care Serology Tests Direction.

Questions and Answers about this Direction

Is serology testing available for the public?

Serology testing is available if appropriate for the situation. The appropriateness of the testing availability is assessed by local public health authorities in consultation with treating doctors.

Who can do a point of care serology test?

A person must not use a point of care serological test (including an assay, test or device) to detect or diagnose COVID-19, unless they:

  • provide pathology services for Pathology Queensland; or
  • provide public health services for the Queensland Department of Health or a Hospital and Health Service; or
  • provide pathology services as a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited medical pathology service with scope of accreditation in microbiology.

In what situations would you use serology tests?

Serology testing is primarily used for investigating an outbreak.

Will widespread serology testing be done to get the true numbers of those who have had it but were never diagnosed?

At this stage, serology is used to assist with contact tracing.

In the future, serology tests may be available for more widespread use, and could be used to retrospectively diagnose cases that have recovered that were unable to be tested at the time for various reasons.

How long have you known about the serology test and why haven't you done it sooner?

Serology testing is a new test which was recently validated.

What is the difference between a PCR and serology test?

Serology testing differs from our traditional PCR testing, which has been used over the past few months in response to COVID-19.

PCR testing detects genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, (the virus that causes COVID-19), whereas serology tests work by detecting antibodies to the virus.

While our PCR tests, which are done with swabs, give us diagnostic information, serology testing, done with a blood test, gives us information about the body’s response to the virus.

Antibodies to respiratory viruses are typically not produced by the human body until around 7 to 14 days after infection.

Because of this, serology testing has some value in looking for past infection for contact tracing and outbreak management.

Regardless of that, we're using this extra information to inform our response to cases.

These extra serology tests - over and above what we normally do and what many other states are doing - help us understand where the virus may have been.

Subscribe to Public Health Direction updates

Connect with Queensland Health now on Messenger to be notified when restrictions change.

Sign up to the Queensland Health newsletter and stay informed about the latest public health directions regarding coronavirus (COVID-19).

Subscribe now

Questions and Requests for exemptions

If you are seeking clarification on a Direction or have any questions, please call 134 COVID (13 42 68).

To apply for an exemption to a Direction please complete the online form.

Submit your request online