What exactly is an antibody?
Antibodies are proteins in your blood. They are produced by your own immune system. You can think of an antibody as a weapon your body uses to fight off infections and hopefully protect you from future infections.
What is an antibody test?
An antibody test, rather than testing for the virus itself, tests for antibodies produced by your own immune system. The antibody test is used to determine if you have been exposed to the virus in the past. It should NOT be used to test for active infections in people who are currently sick.
What antibodies do we test for?
There are two antibodies that our test detects. It detects an early antibody (called IgM) that appears days after an infection and a late antibody (called IgG) that typically appears weeks after an infection and is more long lasting in your system.
What does the test tell me?
If you test negative for both antibodies, you likely have not been infected with the virus. An exception is if you were very recently infected in the past few days. This is because your immune system takes a few days after exposure to produce the early antibody (IgM).
When the early IgM antibodies are present alone or in combination with the late antibodies, this can indicate that a patient has an active or recent infection and may still be contagious.
When the late IgG antibodies are present alone and the early antibody has disappeared, this often indicate a past infection that you may have had several weeks to months ago.
**Don’t worry; on the day of your test, we will give you a handout explaining your results in more detail.
What does the test entail and how much does it cost?
The test is FDA authorized and produced in New York.
We take a blood sample using a finger prick and you will have your test results in about 15 minutes. The cost of the test is $60.
If I have positive antibodies, will I be immune or protected from future COVID-19 infections?
Because this is a new virus, we unfortunately don’t have a definitive answer to this question at this time; however, based on our knowledge from other viruses, there is a very reasonable assumption that the late antibody, IgG, may provide some protection from future infections. I’m hopeful that this is the case. The degree of protection and how long you will be protected is not yet known though.
Regardless of your test results, we STRONGLY recommend that you continue to follow the CDC’s guidelines regarding COVID-19 including social distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing masks in public.
If you are interested in scheduling COVID-19 antibody testing, please call our office at 330.725.0569