Along with all the other news about COVID-19, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about antibody testing. But how does coronavirus antibody testing really work? Today, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about coronavirus antibody testing to help you get the answers you need.
But first, we also want to let you know we’re pleased to now offer COVID-19 antibodies testing at Restore Health Urgent Care in Palm Bay, Florida. Keep reading to learn more about how it works, who needs it, and what it costs.
What are antibodies?
Before we discuss how coronavirus antibody testing works, let’s talk about antibodies in the simplest terms.
Antibodies are blood proteins produced by your body’s immune system. They help you fight off invaders, including COVID-19. Some antibodies are known as “natural antibodies.” This means they’re present in the body without having a previous infection or vaccination.
Then there are antibodies that come from successfully fighting off an infection, including coronavirus. Once these antibodies are present, they may fight off future infections and prevent you from experiencing a specific illness again.
Much is still being learned about coronavirus and coronavirus antibodies. It’s widely accepted that COVID-19 antibodies could offer SOME immunity from getting the virus again. But as new as the virus is, it isn’t completely clear how long you’ll be immune or how strong this immune response is.
Take a look at this article if you’d like to do a deeper dive into the specific science behind antibodies.
Now, onto antibody testing specifically for COVID-19.
What is coronavirus antibody testing?
Since the coronavirus outbreak began, talk about antibody testing has been almost as prevalent as the virus itself. From the beginning, it’s been the hope that the antibodies from those who have recovered from COVID-19 could be used to help prevent the infection with the virus in other people.
How is coronavirus antibody testing different from COVID testing?
We understand there’s some confusion between what coronavirus antibody testing is and what COVID testing is.
COVID testing is done to see if you have an active case of coronavirus. In our post on the diagnostic test for COVID-19, we explain:
Testing for COVID-19 is done by testing respiratory specimens gathered with swabs. For a nasopharyngeal swab, a health care provider has the person put their head back and inserts a flexible swab deep into the back of the nose to gather the specimen. The other swab test collects the specimen from inside the nostril. Then, a lab tests the swabs for COVID-19.
For more information on the COVID-19 test, take a look at the rest of the post.
COVID antibodies testing is a blood test that helps determine if you’ve been exposed to the COVID-19 virus and may have developed an immunity.
Antibody testing is also known as serology testing. It can be done once you’re fully recovered from COVID-19. The antibodies typically appear two weeks or later after exposure to the virus. Eligibility may vary, depending on the availability of tests.
How does it work?
Serological tests are done by having a healthcare professional obtain blood samples, either from a finger prick or drawing blood from a vein in the arm. Then, this sample can be tested in a lab for certain antibodies, including those that can help fend off coronavirus.
Once you’ve had COVID-19 antibody testing, you’ll have more insight into whether you previously had the virus and if you could have immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 in the future. A positive result also indicates you could be eligible to donate plasma to help others fight active cases of COVID.
Why is coronavirus antibody testing important?
Coronavirus antibody testing and COVID-19 diagnostic tests are important for many reasons. Most notably, they can help limit the spread of the virus for the good of public health.
A positive result on your COVID-19 test can mean:
- You can differentiate between the virus and the common cold
- You can self-isolate sooner to protect others
- Your contact with others can be traced so they can also get tested
A positive result on coronavirus antibodies testing can mean:
- You’re able to donate plasma to help others fight the virus
- You’ll get peace of mind that you may have protection against future infections
- Strategies for curbing the spread can be improved
What are immunity passports?
Another term you’ll often hear in the context of antibodies testing is “immunity passports.” An immunity passport provides evidence that a person has been infected and is now purportedly immune to SARS-CoV-2.
These passports could be used to allow travel for individuals who aren’t considered a risk to public health. Those with an immunity passport could be exempt from physical restrictions that would otherwise stop them from returning to work, school, and other activities.
But immunity passports also pose considerable challenges. Public health authorities express concern about the validity and use of immunity passports.
According to the World Health Organization:
At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate.”
Should I get coronavirus antibody testing?
If you don’t currently have any symptoms of COVID-19, you’re eligible for the Antibodies Test! Depending on where you live, you may be encouraged to seek out antibodies testing right away.
Where to get coronavirus antibody testing
You can receive coronavirus antibodies testing at Restore Health Urgent Care in Palm Bay, Florida.
With insurance, the TEST IS FREE with an office visit. During the office visit, we make sure you do not have a fever or other signs of current infection and check your overall health, then we run the test. If you don’t have insurance, you can still take the test. We charge an office visit fee to make sure you are qualified for the test. The test will be billed to you by Quest with a current price of $55.
Feel free to walk-in or make an appointment by calling (321) 312-4580, ext. 4
If you DO have symptoms of COVID-19, please call us at (321) 312-4580, ext. 4. We’ll discuss your symptoms and help you get a COVID-19 test.
Important: If you have symptoms of COVID-19, the antibodies test is not appropriate to confirm this!
It’s critical to remember that the World Health Organization emphasizes much of what we know about COVID-19 and antibody testing is very new and changes rapidly. There is still a long way to go with lab tests that detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in people (and understanding the immune response). It will take time to get the validation to determine their accuracy and reliability. Speak with your doctor or visit the WHO website to get the most up-to-date information to help keep you safe and healthy.
Don’t forget, Restore Health Urgent Care is here for you! Would you like to arrange a telemedicine visit for a non-life-threatening illness or injury (or mental health support)? Call us at (321) 312-4580 and press 4.