by Annita M. Taylor, MBA, MSN, APRN, ANP
Antibody testing is done to see if a person’s body has developed the antibodies to fight COVID-19. This could help in future treatments of the virus. Learn more here.
Several tests have been developed during this ongoing pandemic to detect and confirm the presence of the COVID-19 virus. Of course, with all the unknowns and the rapidity of the virus’s spread, there is a bit of confusion as to which test does what and when each test takes place. In this post, you can find out the differences between the tests and why these tests are conducted, specifically antibody testing for COVID-19.
What Is Antibody Testing, and Why Is It Conducted?
Antibody testing, otherwise known as serology testing, is done by testing a person’s blood to see if they have been infected by the virus previously. This is done by seeing if the person’s blood has the correct antibodies, i.e., proteins in the blood that are developed to fight off the virus. If these antibodies exist in the blood, then it is likely that COVID-19 had infected the person.
The blood that is drawn from the patient is tested for two types of antibodies, IgM and IgG. IgM shows up early in the infection, and IgG shows up later. IgG antibodies stay in the blood after the virus, giving you temporary immunity; however, because of the infancy of the test, medical providers cannot yet determine how long these antibodies remain in the blood. One thing to keep in mind is that some tests can mistake IgM antibodies from other coronaviruses, such as common cold strains, for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which can make the accuracy a little lower.
This test is conducted, because if the person does have the correct antibodies present, they may be able to donate their blood plasma to help treat others infected by the virus. These antibodies could be an integral part of future treatments.
What Is the Difference Between Antibody Testing and Diagnostic Testing?
Diagnostic testing is done to see if the person is currently infected with the virus. This test is done through a swab that is inserted in the nose. The fluid is then tested to see if the person is infected. As we mentioned earlier, the antibody test is done after the person has recovered from the virus. It is done by drawing blood intravenously and testing the blood for antibodies.
Stay safe, informed, and healthy!
NP A.M. Taylor