Serology tests removed from Vermont coronavirus testing data

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont is setting the record straight on reports that our coronavirus testing numbers may have been inflated.

The Associated Press reported Vermont was among a few states including serology test results in their overall data on testing. The report said that could make Vermont's numbers on testing look better than they actually were.

It turns out the Vermont Department of Health wasn't aware that was happening.

Wednesday, Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said while the state collects results, it doesn't run all the tests itself. And about 4% of the labs that were reporting results were serology labs that look for antibodies from past illness, not active infections.

The health department says they stopped including those over the weekend but that it didn't make a big difference.

"Our positivity rate was already in the very low single-digit numbers. And so the impact of removing the serology tests would have been, at most, something in a fraction of a percent positivity. So. it would have had very little impact on the data that we see from day to day," Levine said.

We were expecting an update at the governor's news conference on Wednesday on where the state stands with using antibody testing for the general population but we didn't hear one. We followed up with the health department afterward and had not yet heard back when this story was published.

When we asked last week, the department told us the commissioner was still waiting on a report from the serology testing working group. But they did say that some of the antibody tests are now becoming accurate enough to warrant some consideration.