COVID-19 Q&A

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TESTING

Antigen – an antigen is a toxin or a foreign substance that induces an immune response. In this case, the COVID-19 virus is the antigen. The most common testing that is used for discovering the antigen is a nasopharyngeal swab. 

Antibody – a protein produced by the body to counteract and help to fight-off a specific antigen. In this case, it is the specific antibodies that fight COVID-19 that are being tested. 

*Please note: we are now offering BOTH types of testing for COVID at the office*

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ANTIBODIES

IgM – these are the first antibodies to present when a virus attacks. Everyone produces antibodies at various rates. Studies and our clinical experience has shown that these antibodies are produced most often between 3-5 days into the illness. These are short term antibodies and will last anywhere between 2-4 weeks. 

IgG- these antibodies are your long-term antibodies. They typically develop a few weeks days after infection and last indefinitely. Note, there is conflicting research in the duration that IgG antibodies are lasting for COVID. However, most IgG antibodies to our knowledge persist for life, with the exception of those who may be immunocompromised. 

Keep in mind:  antibodies develop at different rates in everyone depending on the viral load (how much antigen was on board) and immune status of the individual. 

HOW DOES THE TEST WORK?

Lateral flow testing that is specifically tagged with the COVID-19 antibodies. You can think of this like a pregnancy test. In a pregnancy test, the strip is tagged to pick up elevated levels of hCG (a hormone that is higher in pregnancy). When a woman urinates on the stick, it creates a control line and a second line if she is pregnant. 

Our Process: This is the same concept for our tests except that instead of hCG, these strips are tagged with the antibodies (both IgM and IgG) for COVID-19. With a finger prick and a drop of blood we are able to find out if you have antibodies within 15 minutes.

HOW FAST ARE THE RESULTS?

Results take about 15 minutes to develop. You should expect your total time in office to be about 20-30 minutes. 

IF I TEST NEGATIVE FOR ANTIBODIES, CAN I STILL GET COVID?

Yes! If you are negative for antibodies you can still get COVID. Similar to other testing, you still have the ability to contract the virus at any time even if you are currently negative.

IF I TEST POSITIVE FOR ANTIBODIES, CAN I STILL GET COVID?

Unfortunately, data is still lacking on the potential for the recurrence rate of COVID. While IgG antibodies historically do provide long term protection, there is a chance the virus could mutate and cause reinfection in the future. 

IS THERE A TIME PERIOD I HAVE TO WAIT TO GET TESTED? 

Yes! Antibodies develop at different times in everyone, therefore we recommend waiting at least 3, but optimally 5 days after symptoms develop (or after exposure) to get tested. If you come in earlier, we are still able to test you, but the accuracy of the results decreases due to inadequate time for your antibodies to develop.

HOW DOES COVID PRESENT?

We have seen a wide variety of symptoms in patients who have been diagnosed positive with COVID-19. For example: some patients have been completely asymptomatic. Others, have only loss of taste or smell. Some will have a day or two of fatigue and a low grade fever. On the more extreme side of the scale, we have seen patients with pulse oxygen saturations in the 70s and 80s (normal is above 95), with respiratory distress, cough, pneumonia and high fevers. Typically, the patients we have seen who have been affected more severely are those with pre-existing conditions such as obesity, diabetes, asthma or hypertension. 

All documented symptoms for COVID-19 include: 

Fever or chills

Cough

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Fatigue

Muscle and body aches

Headache

New loss of taste or smell

Sore throat

Nasal congestion or runny nose

Nausea or vomiting 

Diarrhea 

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