What is the COVID-19 antibody test?
COVID-19 (coronavirus) antibody testing is a qualitative detection of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, to help identify individuals who have been exposed to the virus.
Who should be tested?
The test is recommended for individuals at least 14 days after the onset of symptoms, or if you have been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19.
What is the value of doing this test?
Testing for COVID-19 antibodies can help Health Departments studying the number of people exposed to the virus.
Testing also helps healthcare providers identify those at-risk who have not been previously infected (antibody negative), as well as those that have been previously infected (antibody positive), but may have had mild or no symptoms.
How is this test conducted?
The test requires a few drops of blood from your finger.
What are the considerations for COVID-19 antibody testing?
Currently, there are some limitations around the results of the test. A few things to consider:
- If you have been in recent contact with the virus and you test negative for the antibody, it does not rule out a current or developing infection.
- If you test positive, it could be due to past or present infection with a different coronavirus strain other than COVID-19.
- Positive results do not currently indicate a person is immune from COVID-19. Additional studies are underway to determine if antibodies will prevent re-infection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How are is anti-body testing performed?
A. A few drops of blood is removed from your finger. The results from this test are usually available in 15 minutes.
Q. If my test is positive, does that mean I can freely visit my elderly parents, friends and loved ones again? Or safely return to work?
A. A positive test indicates that you have previously been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. It is currently unknown if the presence of antibodies prevents future infections from the COVID-19 virus. Until additional research can be done a person previously exposed with a positive antibody test should take the same precautions to prevent spread of disease as anyone else. This includes social distancing, wearing a mask, use of hand sanitizer and cleaning of surfaces.
Q. Will these anti-bodies, should I test positive, prevent me from getting COVID-19 more than once?
A. Unfortunately, It is currently unknown if the presence of antibodies prevents future infections from the COVID-19 virus.
Q. Should I test positive for antibodies, have I developed an immunity to COVID-19? How long does my immunity last?
A. It is currently not known if the presence of antibodies to COVID-19 confers immunity for any length of time. Additional research will need to be completed before the question can be answered.
Q. What are the known potential risks of getting an antibody test?
A. Outside of the normal discomfort of having a blood sample removed the only known risks involve misunderstanding the meaning of the test results.
Q. What does it mean if I have a negative antibody test result?
A. A negative test result indicates that no antibodies were detected. This means that you have either never been exposed to the virus or that your exposure was recent enough that antibodies have not yet reached a level of detection.
Q. How likely is it that my anti-body test is a false negative?
A. The most accurate antibody tests can normally detect the COVID-19 antibody about 14 days following the onset of symptoms. Obtaining the test too soon increases the possibility of a false negative.
Q. Once I finish the test, how long do I need to wait for my results?
A. The results from this test are usually available within 15 minutes.