How Do the COVID19 Antibody Tests Differ from Other Diagnostic Tests?
There are a few different types of COVID tests being conducted in America and all around the world, which has caused some confusion in people about the purpose of each test and how they’re different from each other.
Today, we’ll discuss one type of COVID test called the COVID-19 antibody test in detail.
What Is an Antibody Test?
The antibody test helps determine whether an individual has had COVID-19 in the past and if their immune system is now producing the antibodies needed against the virus. Antibodies are proteins that are necessary for fighting the virus and cleaning out the bad or infected cells from the body.
The antibody test is also known as the serology test. It is typically conducted after a person has contracted COVID-19 and has fully recovered from the virus, meaning they have tested negative.
The antibody test is conducted by a medical professional who takes a blood sample, either by drawing a small amount of blood from a vein or by pricking a finger and collecting a few droplets.
If the antibody test shows that a person has antibodies against COVID-19, it means they were infected by the virus at some point in the past. The presence of antibodies means the person is now immune to the coronavirus for some time.
However, more research is being conducted to determine whether immunity against the virus also includes immunity against reinfection with COVID-19, the level of immunity and how much protection it offers, and how long the immunity will last.
When to Conduct an Antibody Test?
Antibody testing is usually recommended after a minimum of 14 days have passed from the day the symptoms of the virus first started to show. The timing of the test is vital to ensure that the test results are accurate. If the test is done too early during the course of the infection, the immune system might still be building antibodies to fight the virus, so the test might not be able to detect them.
It's important to use the specific antibody tests which have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration or FDA. A significant benefit of antibody testing is that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are eligible to donate plasma, which can help treat other infected patients and boost their immune system’s response to the virus.
What Other Tests Are Available For COVID-19?
There are two other tests available for COVID-19, and they are both different from the antibody test. The first test is the PCR or polymerase chain reaction, a molecular test that detects whether a person has been infected with the virus using fluid collected from either a throat or nasal swab.
The second test is the antigen test which is used to detect specific proteins in the COVID-19 virus. The test is also used to confirm whether a person has contracted the virus, and it can offer results within minutes.