Hi! I’m Dr Scott Allan the medical director at Rochester Regional Health Immediate Care. You may have seen me in one of our facilities or you may have run into me outside of our centers. Recently, I’ve answered many questions from patients, family, and friends about the COVID-19 Antibody Test. I’m happy to share what we know – and more importantly – what we don’t know about these tests. Below are some of the key points I have shared with them. Please familiarize yourself with this information. Misuse or misinterpretation of the results of this test can be dangerous and may increase your risk of disease.
I’ll start with what is known.
- The test detects whether a patient shows evidence of a prior COVID-19 infection.
- The test is a blood test that looks for a specific antibody. Antibodies are produced by your immune system in response to an infection. An antibody can show evidence of exposure to a possible infection (in this case COVID-19).
- The results of the test will not affect current guidelines for social distancing, facemask use, and other protective measures designed to decrease the spread of COVID-19.
- Patients should continue to practice social distancing and wear masks in public even if testing indicates that antibodies are present in the blood.
- Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies will usually develop within 3 to 4 weeks after infection. Antibodies have the potential to reduce disease severity the next time you are exposed. There are 5 different types of antibodies your body can produce in response to an infection. lgG antibodies are the most common.
What we don’t know.
- We do not know if the presence of antibodies will provide any protection from future exposures.
- If any protection is provided, we do not know how long this protection will last.
- Negative results do not guarantee that you have not been infected in the past.
- Positive results may result from exposure to other non-COVID-19 coronavirus strains.
I hope to see you either around town or in in the office. Until then, be safe and be well.
Scott Allan, MD
Rochester Regional Health Immediate Care