The COVID-19 antibody test which is also known as the serology test is a blood test that is used to check whether you have had a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. The infection is from the virus that causes coronavirus disease which began in 2019. However, It is important to note that an antibody test cannot determine if you have the COVID-19 virus infection.
Antibodies are proteins made in response to infection through your immune system. The immune system involves a complex cellular, organ, and tissue network. It identifies foreign matter in your body and helps to combat infections and illnesses. It may take up to two or three weeks after infection with the COVID-19 virus, before the development of sufficient antibodies. In the testing of an antibody, this is one of the major concerns. So you must make sure not to be tested too soon if you have not experienced any symptoms.
Functions of antibodies
After recovery from COVID-19, antibodies are detected in your blood for months or more. While these antibodies may have some immunity from the COVID-19 virus, there is currently insufficient evidence of the duration or extent of antibody action on the virus. And even how powerful it is to help you prevent another infection. Although rare, some cases of reinfection have been confirmed and suspected. COVID-19 studies and other immune system components are ongoing to learn more about immunity.
Types of COVID-19 antibodies
Certain types of antibodies associated with COVID-19 can be detected in antibodies tests:
1. Binding antibodies
These widely available tests detect if you have developed antibodies in response to an infection of COVID-19. However, they do not show how comprehensive or effective your immune response is.
2. Neutralizing antibodies
A newer, more sensitive test, which is still not widely available, detects a subset of antibodies that might inactivate the virus. This test can be performed after positive antibody binding testing. It is another step to find out just how effective your antibodies can help prevent another COVID-19 infection by blocking the virus.
Antibody testing for COVID-19
- You have had COVID-19 symptoms but have not been tested.
- You will need a medical procedure in a hospital or clinic particularly if you had a positive diagnostic test of COVID-19 in the past.
- You have been infected with COVID-19 in the past and want to donate plasma, which contains antibodies that can help treat people that have severe COVID-19 cases.
- Antibody testing may be ordered to help diagnose the MIS-C if a child is ill. And also when the doctor suspects an inflammatory multi-system infection in the child (MIS-c). Many MIS-C children have COVID-19 antibodies, indicating a previous case of coronavirus, possibly through surface infection.
- Please contact your doctor or your local health department if you are interested in an antibody test for COVID-19. The availability of testing in the area and the local or state health department guidelines may depend on whether you are eligible for testing or not.
COVID-19 antibody test results
A good test means that your blood contains COVID-19 antibodies that indicate a virus infection in the past. A positive test result can be achieved even though you never had any COVID-19 symptoms. There may be false-positive test results. It can be that the coronavirus antibodies have been detected in close proximity to COVID-19 or that the quality of the test has been impaired.
A negative test means you do not have COVID-19 antibodies. So you have probably not previously been infected with COVID-19. Because antibodies can take time to develop, false-negative test results may occur if the blood sample is collected too early after your infection has begun. The test may be faulty in some cases.
Persons with COVID-19 or positive antibodies should not assume that they are protected against a COVID-19 infection again. This should not be the case. Researchers are trying to establish whether the antibodies give the COVID-19 virus patient immunity, what the protective level appears to be, and how long immunity can last.
To date, even as your test results show that you have COVID-19 antibodies, take precautions to prevent the risk of spreading the virus, including the use of a face mask in public, frequent washing of your hands, and social distancing.
Problems with COVID-19 antibody test results
The results of the tests for antibodies for COVID-19 may not always be exact, especially if the test has been done too soon after infection or the quality of the test is questionable. Various manufacturers have been rushing to market antibody tests with little supervision. The United States Administration of Food and Medicines publishes online data on the performance of certain antibody tests.
Testing antibodies for COVID-19 could lead to false or false-negative results from the tests.
1. False-positive result
This happens when the test result is good, but you don’t have antibodies in the past and you haven’t had an infection. A false-positive result could provide you with a mistaken feeling of safety that you are protected against another COVID-19 infection, and immunity is questionable even with a real positive result.
2. False-negative result
The COVID-19 virus is presented with antibodies, but it is not detected by the test. Otherwise, your body has not had time to develop antibodies and you have been tested too early after infection.
How to do a COVID-19 antibody test
Your doctor or test center will teach you where to go and how to perform the test. Plan to wear a mask from and to the testing station. Everybody with you must wear one too.
In the case of a COVID-19 antibody test, a doctor usually takes a blood sample or takes a finger-punched venous vein from the blood. The sample is then tested in a lab to see if COVID-19 antibodies have been developed.
At some points on the same day as your test, the test results of COVID-19 can be available. Other sites may require test samples to be sent to a laboratory for testing and the required findings can be made available for a couple of days. Prevention is always better than cure. Make sure to use fogger machines whenever possible to keep your surroundings safe and virus free.