Coronavirus Antibody Testing: Everything You Need to Know

Coronavirus Antibody Testing: Everything You Need to Know

COVID-19 is making headlines all over the world, ever since its discovery in December 2019. It never really seemed that serious until early 2020, when almost every country in the world had to close off their borders to stop the spread of the virus.

Never have we seen a situation like this in modern history when the world has come to a grinding halt. The “new normal” is a change that so many are unwilling to embrace.

Currently, every ER near you, including our emergency room in San Antonio, is ready to keep fighting COVID-19.

Since prevention is better than cure, we need to do all we can to help curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Nevertheless, we need to find a way to safely treat and save as many lives as possible. Hence, the need to think outside the box to find a vaccine and treatment. It is through this line of thinking that antibody testing was born.

What Is It?

Whenever you get an infection, your immune system has an in-built method of fighting against foreign harmful substances. Your body produces antibodies, which are released specifically to fight against infections.

Therefore, antibody testing is screening for antibodies present in your blood after fighting off an infection. Your body will produce these antibodies when fighting against the coronavirus.

The test is not designed to check for the virus, but the evidence that your body was infected and has recovered. Also, to check whether you have enough antibodies to fight against it. The whole idea is to ascertain whether your body’s defense has responded and fought against the infection.

It shouldn’t be used to diagnose a current coronavirus infection since your body takes up to three weeks before it produces enough antibodies that can show up in a test.

This test is also known as a serology test.

How Does It Work?

Your body will typically produce antibodies as its natural defense mechanism. Antibodies are simply proteins that are designed to fight off disease. Antibodies are produced to fight specific infections. They are not all the same, but they are disease-specific.

For example, if you had mumps, your body will produce mumps antibodies. This means that your body will be protected from mumps if you are exposed to it again.

However, if you have measles, mumps antibodies will not protect you from it. Your body has to produce antibodies that are specific to measles.

This is what happens to you when you get a flu shot or a vaccine. This is what causes your body to build immunity against the disease.

Therefore, after you have fully recovered from COVID-19, you can become eligible for the antibody test. When you get to our 24-hour emergency care, your blood sample will be taken by drawing blood from your vein or a finger prick.

Then your blood is analyzed to check for two kinds of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2:

  • IgM antibodies that are produced early in an infection
  • IgG antibodies, which usually show up later

The IgG antibodies will show nearly 14 days after your symptoms show. They also linger long in the body after the infection has cleared.

Why Do You Need Antibody Testing?

There is a chance that you might have SARS-CoV-2, the type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and you have no idea. You could be asymptomatic (not showing symptoms). The antibody test can help health officials also know how common coronavirus is in a given population.

The data the researchers collect can help them understand who might be immune to coronavirus.

On the other hand, the test can help researchers try out the experimental treatment for COVID-19, known as convalescent plasma. This is when someone who has recovered from COVID-19 donates the liquid part of their blood to help other patients fight against the disease.

The idea is that convalescent plasma can help sick people get well faster.

How Can You Get the Test?

Since you can’t do this test at home, you will have to contact our doctor in an emergency room near you. Then our doctor will give you the way forward since the tests are limited. However, they are becoming widely available in most parts of the country.

If you think you have come into contact with coronavirus or have fully recovered, you can call us at our urgent care near you. Our doctors at Express ER in San Antonio will give you a way forward.

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