What Is A COVID-19 Antibody Test?
A COVID-19 antibody test, also known as a serology test, is a test that is used to detect the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This test is used to help determine whether or not a patient has previously been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus or have recovered from the COVID-19 infection.
There is still research to be done to determine whether the presence of antibodies means that you are immune to the coronavirus in the future; or if you are immune, how long your immunity to this virus will last.
What Are Antibodies?
Antibodies are proteins that are formed by the body’s immune system to fight against infections like viruses. In some cases, these antibodies are effective at helping the body to ward off future occurrences of those same infections. Antibodies may take days or weeks to fully develop in the body following exposure to an infection and it is unknown how long they stay in the blood.
Are COVID-19 Antibody Tests Used To Diagnose COVID-19?
No. These antibody tests were not not designed to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to diagnose COVID-19. In fact, these tests can return a negative test result even in infected patients. This is because the antibodies may take several days or weeks to develop in a patient. Additionally, these tests may result in false positives if they are used this way, as they may detect the presence of another coronavirus antibody in your system. This is why they are not effective to evaluate if you are currently infected or contagious with COVID-19.
What Happens If I Test Positive To COVID-19 Antibodies?
Whenever you test positive for antibodies from an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, it means there is a chance you have already been infected. However, a positive result means you have antibodies from an infection with a different virus from the same family of viruses, meaning you are still vulnerable to developing COVID-19.
Testing positive for antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 may help to protect you from getting infected with the virus again. However, there is no guarantee that it does and we do not know how long this protection may last.
If you test positive for COVID-19 antibodies talk with your healthcare provider to understand what your result means. Your provider may suggest you take a second type of antibody test to see if the first test was accurate.
Regardless of your results, you should continue to take measures to protect yourself and others since you could get infected with the virus again.
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