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July 2020

Concerns About Biotin Interference with COVID-19 Test

False test results are an ongoing concern during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Now some experts are warning that biotin supplements might interfere with COVID-19 antibody testing.

Many lab assays use biotin, so it’s well-known that taking biotin can skew numerous other lab results. For example, it can cause falsely low results on parathyroid hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, prolactin, and prostate-specific antigen testing. It can also cause falsely high results for many tests, including thyroxine, progesterone, estradiol, and testosterone. There’s now some concern that biotin can interfere with the Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 test – a widely used antibody test for determining if a patient has been exposed to, and developed antibodies against, the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While it’s still unclear if testing positive confirms any type of immunity to future infection, ensuring test results are accurate is an important step in efforts to understand the virus.

Taking biotin in a single dose up to 300 mg doesn’t seem to interfere with the Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 test, but interference may be possible in patients who’ve been taking biotin long-term. This hasn’t been confirmed in humans, but as with other lab tests affected by biotin, patients should stop taking biotin supplements 72 hours before testing. Make sure patients understand that this concern is related to antibody testing (a blood test), not tests used to diagnose active COVID-19 infection (a swab test). False swab test results are also a concern, but discontinuing biotin won’t help.

To learn more about COVID-19 testing, review Help Patients and Staff Understand Test Results. For more information about biotin-lab test interactions, check out our biotin monograph. And for more information about natural medicines and COVID-19, see our latest articles and resources.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2020 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.