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Coronavirus Antibody Testing

PlushCare is proud to offer appointments for patients requesting COVID-19 antibody testing. With virtual access to our board-certified physicians, patients can receive required testing orders at no cost. During your appointment, a PlushCare doctor can determine if you are eligible for antibody testing and provide you with a testing order.

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What is COVID-19 Antibody Testing?

Quest labs and LabCorp are now offering antibody testing to determine COVID-19 exposure. The test detects antibodies that indicate the patient has been exposed to COVID-19. It is a standard blood test that must be performed in-person at a LabCorp or Quest lab location. Results take 3-4 business days to come back and will help identify those who have already been infected and may have immunity.

How Do I Get COVID-19 Antibody Testing?

A physician’s testing order is required before testing can be performed. PlushCare’s board certified physicians can provide insured in-network patients with a testing order.

The antibody test must be done at a LabCorp location or a Quest diagnostic service center. You can only receive antibody testing if you have been asymptomatic for 10 days. This is not a test for people displaying symptoms. You must wait until your symptoms subside for 10 days and then you can receive a testing order.


FAQ

Should I get the COVID-19 antibody test?

If you experienced COVID-19 symptoms more than 10 days ago you are eligible for COVID-19 antibody testing. The test will determine if you were exposed to COVID-19 and may indicate immunity.

How does the test work?

The test is a standard blood test to see if you have IgG antibodies. It is FDA sanctioned via FDA Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease-2019, and will be run using either Abbott or EUROIMMUN equipment. The test typically turns positive 14 days after symptoms begin.

What if my COVID-19 antibody test result is positive?

A positive test means you have had the virus in the past, at least two weeks prior to the test and that your body has antibodies to the virus. We think it is likely that you are immune to the virus, but we don’t know this for sure. We also don’t know how long the antibodies last in your system.

What if my COVID-19 antibody test result is negative?

A negative test means that antibodies were not detected in your system. Either you have never been infected, your infection was recent (in the last 14 days), or you may have had the infection but your immune system did not produce antibodies (due to weakened immunity or for other reasons).

What do I need to do before getting testing?

Assuming you meet the testing criteria you should book a virtual appointment with PlushCare. Our physicians will provide you with a required testing order. Following this, we recommend making an appointment at a Quest or LabCorp location. When you go to your appointment, you must be symptom free, you MUST wear a mask, and they will check your temperature to make sure you don’t have a fever. You will get your results in 3-4 business days.

How accurate is the test?

Abbott Laboratories test has a sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 99.6% according to an internal Abbott study. EUROIMMUN test has 99% specificity.



More on COVID-19 Antibody Testing

Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulin (Ig), are naturally produced by your body to fight off infections from foreign and dangerous antigens. Antibodies chemically combine with substances which the body recognizes, like bacteria and viruses. Once attached, they neutralize the ability of the antigen to replicate, effectively killing the disease and keeping you healthy. 

You may have heard of antibodies before. IgG antibodies represent nearly 75% of all antibodies we possess, and some people can have high or low levels of IgG leading to health deficiencies. Created by our plasma, all antibodies are designed to attack specific antigens. They are created in response to an infection as a preventative measure for when we encounter the same antigen again. This is generally how vaccines work: by introducing unique forms of antigens that do not threaten our health, the body produces antibodies for when we encounter the real disease later in life. 

When talking about the coronavirus, we must be cautious not to overstep the boundaries of research in regard to antibodies. Antibody testing is certainly a step in the right direction in our fight against the pandemic, however it is not the answer to all of our problems. To find out more about what antibody testing is actually telling us, continue reading below. 

Antibody Testing and the Coronavirus

As the country attempts to reopen, everyone is asking the same question: If I get coronavirus am I immune? The answer is simple, yet unsatisfying: we don’t know. On May 27th, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, Dr. Mike Ryan said in regard to antibodies and immunity, “The jury is still very much out on that.” Scientists are still researching this issue everyday, working endlessly to better understand how the virus interacts with the immune system. Of course, we all hope that strong evidence is found to prove that re-infection is not dangerous however, it still remains unclear if this is the case.

Researchers from the Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a report studying patients who tested positive for the coronavirus twice. They found that those who re-tested positive carried antibodies that protected them from falling ill again, and prevented them from passing the disease to those who they came in contact with.

This is good news however, it is only one study and should not be taken as definitive proof. Larger sample sizes, examining different strains of the virus, and studying greater numbers of people who come into contact with those carrying a second infection, are all necessary before policy can be built around antibody immunity.

Where Are We Now?

So far, the rollout of antibody testing has been a bumpy process. Even as government organizations crack down with new regulations for tests, the CDC recently released a warning about inaccurate tests that provide wrong answers as frequently as half the time.

Receiving a false positive is incredibly damaging to efforts to combat the virus, as it creates a sense of false confidence that may prompt a person to act irresponsibly, jeopardizing their health and the health of those around them. Beating the coronavirus will require accurate and widespread testing, and until then, antibody testing should be marked with an asterisk.

Across the globe, politicians are putting forward ideas that boil down to a sort of “immunity passport,” or the prospect of allowing those with immunity to return to certain functions, like work. However, until accurate testing is made available and inaccurate tests are removed from the market, any sweeping legislation that utilizes immunity could be a public health disaster.

In the end, accurate antibody testing can help us better understand the scope of the pandemic. The presence of COVID-19 antibodies means that someone was infected at some point and produced an immune system response. Widespread antibody testing could discover that the disease has spread far greater than we thought, perhaps suggesting we are nearing herd immunity.

However, the critical first step towards any benefits from antibody testing is making the tests accurate. Until then, scientists and politicians must continue to study antibodies in order to conceive a plan for how to reopen the country in a future where adequate testing is available. 


Read: Coronavirus Antibody Testing Update


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Sources:

nytimes.com. What You Need to Know About the Covid-19 Antibody Test. Accessed on May 27, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/article/antibody-test-coronavirus.html

cnn.com Antibody tests for Covid-19 wrong up to half the time, CDC says. Accessed on May 27, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/26/health/antibody-tests-cdc-coronavirus-wrong/index.html

cdc.gov. Coronavirus Disease 2019. Accessed on May 27, 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/27/who-says-jury-is-still-very-much-out-on-whether-coronavirus-antibodies-provide-immunity.html

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