“Did I really have COVID-19?”
The answer to that particular question may lie in antibody testing. However, it’s important to understand that these tests don’t hold all the answers.
Antibody tests detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies. If you’re following the news, you may have heard them touted as an indicator of immunity—and a vital tool for reopening the US economy. Unfortunately, the science around both these claims is still murky.
Larger questions, including whether antibodies confer immunity, will take longer to answer. We have high hopes that positive antibodies will protect folks from future infections, but—until we have all the facts—we won’t know their full value.
So, what’s ZOOM+Care’s stance on antibody testing?
We want to be completely transparent: At this time, we don’t know if a positive antibody test confers immunity to COVID-19. However, ZOOM+Care still believes the tests are important and valuable. To help you understand the benefits and limitations of antibody testing, we’re answering your biggest questions below:
First off, what are antibodies?
Antibodies are specialized proteins created by the immune system.
When a foreign invader such as COVID-19 infiltrates the body, the immune system mounts a general attack to combat the virus. But eventually, the body creates an individualized attack by sending out large, Y-shaped proteins, called antibodies. Antibodies “recognize” viruses, bacteria, and infected cells, and target them precisely.
Antibody tests detect these molecules.
What is a coronavirus antibody test?
The coronavirus antibody test is a blood-draw test. It looks to detect lgG antibodies developed by the body to fight COVID-19. At ZOOM+Care, we use an FDA EUA (Emergency Use Act) antibody test, processed through LabCorp.
What does a positive antibody test mean?
While not perfect, a positive antibody test represents a high probability that you were exposed to COVID-19—even if you never showed symptoms of the virus.
What about a negative test result?
A negative test can mean a couple of things, actually.
Firstly, it can mean you were never exposed to COVID-19. It can also mean you were exposed, but your body did not produce enough antibodies to be detected. Finally, a negative test could mean your body needs more time to produce antibodies after exposure to the virus.
Can an antibody test detect an active coronavirus infection?
Nope! An antibody test is not meant to detect an active COVID-19 infection.
If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, you may be eligible for COVID-19 testing at ZOOM+Care.
If I have antibodies, I’m immune, right?
Not necessarily. The presence of antibodies only indicates that someone has had COVID-19, but it does not guarantee that a person is immune. That’s because we don’t know how immunity to the virus works yet. At this time, we have no clear idea of what the presence of antibodies means for long-lasting—or even short-term—immunity.
While it’s simply too early to know if a positive antibody test confers immunity to COVID-19, there is hope: Most infectious disease experts think it’s likely COVID-19 does induce some degree of resistance.
So, what are the benefits of antibody testing?
Even if they can’t determine immunity at this time, antibody tests are still useful. They can provide you with peace of mind by helping you understand if you’ve been exposed to the virus.
After testing positive for antibodies, you can even donate your plasma to studies looking for treatments.
Secondly, antibody tests may be a potentially valuable tool for public-health officials. They can help researchers understand how the virus spreads, how deadly the virus is, and how many people have come into contact with it.
How do I qualify for antibody testing?
Our doctors can determine if you are eligible for antibody testing. However, in order to receive testing, you must be symptom-free for at least ten days.
What type of antibody test does ZOOM+Care use? Is it accurate?
At ZOOM+Care, we use an FDA EUA (Emergency Use Act) antibody test, processed through LabCorp.
LabCorp’s platform detects IgG antibodies to the COVID-19 virus. They use Abbott Architect as the primary testing platform to detect IgG antibodies to the COVID-19 virus.
This particular test is very accurate. Current EUA approval requires all antibody tests to accurately identify at least 90% of positive cases and 95% of negative cases.
To learn more about the type of antibody test we use at ZOOM+Care, check out our COVID-19 antibody testing FAQs.
How do I get tested at ZOOM+Care?
First, you must speak with a ZOOM+Care provider, either virtually through VideoCare™ or by scheduling an in-person or phone visit at a Zoom clinic near you. They will ask you questions, then order the test for you, depending on your past symptoms. Results are usually available within one to three days.