How Does COVID Antibody Testing Work?

COVID antibody testing

It’s hard to keep up with all the updates of the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, testing was not available. Now it is available… but not for everyone. And now, you’re hearing about the COVID-19 antibody testing. What is it and should you get it? Let’s look at a few things you should know.

What’s the difference between COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 antibody testing?

A COVID-19 viral test is used to find out if someone is currently infected with the COVID-19 virus. Someone who is infected with the virus will test positive. The COVID-19 antibody test is used to find out if someone is or has ever been infected by the COVID-19 virus. It should be able to detect antibodies a few days to weeks after being infected.

What is an Antibody?

Before explaining how the COVID antibody test works, it’s important to know what an antibody is. When you are exposed to an infection, your body produces antibodies. These blood proteins fight foreign invaders like viruses or bacteria, also known as antigens.

What Does the COVID-19 Antibody Test Tell You?

The COVID-19 antibody test measures people’s response to the virus. The antibodies you produce while you’re infected with a virus—like COVID-19—stay in your body. This means you should be able to find these antibodies months or probably years after you’ve been infected.  The COVID-19 antibody test works by using a piece of coronavirus to bait and detect COVID-19 antibodies in your body.

There are more than 120 different COVID-19 antibody tests on the market. However, the accuracy of these tests hasn’t been completely vetted by the FDA. Some antibody tests will simply tell you whether or not you’ve had the virus before. Others will assess the level of antibodies you have, which will be important once it is determined if and what amount of antibodies provide immunity. It’s important to emphasize again that many of these tests have not been vetted by the FDA and that there are still a lot of unknowns about the virus and immunity. 

Should I Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test?

There are positive and negatives to getting the COVID-19 antibody test. By getting tested, public health officials can determine what percentage of cities or areas have been infected with the virus. It gives them a sense of how fast things are spreading.

But the downside to antibody testing is that results may not be accurate or provide a full story of the virus. Test results can give people a false sense of security when they may still be at risk for contracting the virus. There is also a lot we don’t know about COVID-19. So individuals who test positive on an antibody test may think they’re completely immune when they may not be. 

Although having antibodies of a virus generally means you’ll be protected from that virus in the future, that doesn’t hold true for all viruses. The jury is still out on COVID-19. There’s a chance you might not have the right antibodies or the right level of antibodies to protect you. The medical community still has a lot to figure out.

Hospitality Health ER has been vetting different brands of COVID antibody tests to find the most accurate ones. Like our Facebook page (Galveston, Tyler, Longview) for automatic updates on how we are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.