What is COVID-19 Antibody Testing?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease stemming from a novel coronavirus that had not been seen in humans. First identified in December 2019, the name is broken down as follows: CO=corona, VI= virus, D=disease.
Since then, COVID-19 has been the life-changing topic of discussion for the past year. From protecting ourselves, understanding the symptoms, testing, and vaccines, the virus is a constant source of news.
With the different tests available, you may not know which test you need. The Rapid Antigen Test, the molecular or RT-PCR test, and the antibody test have different testing methods, purposes, and findings. In a recent blog post, we discussed each test, but here we will delve further into the COVID antibody test.
Read on to learn more about what COVID-19 antibody testing is, its uses, and what a positive test result means.
Understanding the COVID Antibody Test
To understand the purpose of antibody testing, you must first understand antibodies. When you get sick, your immune system kicks in to defend the body. Antibodies are large, Y-shaped proteins that identify and neutralize foreign materials such as bacteria or viruses.
The antibodies recognize specific molecules called antigens within the pathogenic material. The specific design of each antibody allows it to bind to the antigen. That molecule is then marked to be attacked or neutralized by the immune system.
What Is the COVID-19 Antibody Test?
Serology or antibody tests are used to detect a recent or prior COVID-19 infection. The antibody test looks for the presence of antibodies which are created in response to infections. A simple blood test detects the antibodies that would be present if an immune response occurred due to a COVID infection.
Uses of the Antibody Test
The COVID-19 antibody test is used to check for a prior infection, not a current one. Antibody tests are important for patients who were asymptomatic meaning they did not show symptoms or signs of an active infection.
What You Should Know About the COVID-19 Antibody Test
While the antibody tests for COVID-19 show if your body has developed an immune response to the disease, timing is crucial. False negative and false positive results are possible if the test is performed too early in an infection.
How Soon Will the Antibody Test Show Positive for COVID-19?
Antibodies are the proteins that arise in response to an infection or vaccine. Your body begins to make these proteins 1-3 weeks after the infection. Because of this time frame, antibody tests should not be used to check for an active COVID-19 infection.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you may be early enough in an infection that the antibodies have not yet developed. This could cause a negative test result.
Ideally, an antibody test is performed at least 14 days after an infection has started. This ensures the body has had time to develop antibodies.
What Does a Positive Antibody Test Mean?
A positive antibody test result does not mean you have an active infection.
Patients who test positive but do not have symptoms and have not been exposed are unlikely to have an active infection. According to the CDC, these patients can continue with their normal routines.
However, those who test positive AND are currently sick or have been exposed should take the necessary precautions to avoid spreading the disease. To confirm an active infection, a diagnostic test such as the Rapid Antigen or molecular test would need to be performed.
Additionally, a positive test result does not mean the patient is not contagious. He/she could still be within an active infection. Positive results do not equal immunity. At this time, we do not know if antibodies are enough to create immunity to the disease or for how long.
Where Can I Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test?
Antibody tests are available through some healthcare providers, laboratories, and public health officials. Carolina Pharmacy only offers Rapid Antibody Testing in Arboretum. Please call 704-909-4700 ext 0 for more info or you may walk in for an appointment.
Protect Yourself Against COVID-19
The best way to defend yourself and your loved ones against COVID is by following the CDC’s recommendations. Wash your hands frequently. Practice social distancing and avoid crowded areas. Wear a face mask when you are around others who do not live in your home.
COVID-19 Testing at Carolina Pharmacy
If you have symptoms or have been exposed, Carolina Pharmacy offers COVID-19 testing in Charlotte, NC, and the surrounding areas.
COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test
Carolina Pharmacy offers Rapid COVID-19 testing in Charlotte. The Rapid Antigen test provides results in as little as 10 minutes. Positive results are highly accurate. False positives are possible if the test is performed too early in an infection. The Rapid Test is recommended at 5 days past exposure.
COVID-19 RT-PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Test
In addition, we offer the COVID-19 RT-PCR test in Charlotte. Results from the molecular test are available within approximately 72 hours. This test is highly accurate and does not need to be repeated.
Some employers may require this test before allowing their employees to return to work. It may also be required prior to traveling.