What can a COVID-19 antibody test tell me?

Katie Ramirez
May 20, 2020

US employers have cooled to the idea of testing workers for possible immunity to the coronavirus as they prepare to reopen factories and other workplaces.

Boggs explained that there are three markers: an IGM (an immediate marker), an IGA (intermediate marker), and an IGG (long term marker).

But many US companies are not planning to use them, relying on face masks, temperature checks, social distancing, and diagnostic tests for those with symptoms, employers and healthcare experts told Reuters.

Widespread use of such tests will tell governments what proportion of the population has had COVID-19, and better understand how it has spread. If you've recently developed symptoms that might be attributable to COVID-19, you should wait until at least 14 days after the start of those symptoms to test for these antibodies, since it can take that long to develop them. The American Medical Association cautioned on Thursday that these tests do not determine an individual's immunity.

Boggs said that anyone who thinks they should have the test should call and make an appointment Monday through Friday.

For those thinking they may have had the virus, there is an antibody test that can identify if your body has already fought of the virus.

This test has not been reviewed by the FDA. "This will help answer some of the questions regarding antibodies". The tests are not USDA approved and will not give accurate results. "Then if it becomes possible to use antibodies as an effective treatment for people who are extremely ill, then perhaps those people who tested positive can become donors and provide that antibody for future use". Sophia has chosen the Boston Heart antibody test, created by Diazyme Lab, because it has been validated against cross reactions with other common viruses, including other common corona viruses.

Opinions are mixed surrounding antibody testing

"I think that is one of the goals of these tests", Boggs said.

It's unclear the brand of antibody test this man had but others have had an accuracy rate of about 98 percent.

Employers are also wary of an unregulated USA market for antibody tests. It uses one of the few tests considered reliable and given emergency use authorization by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Last week, the agency set a deadline for all vendors to prove to the FDA that their tests work or remove them from the market. A second test, from Abbott Laboratories, has since also been approved in the UK.

One of the biggest USA testing providers, LabCorp, on Thursday said it was rolling out a program to make diagnostic tests and antibody tests available at workplaces. But unlike STI results, the newer and more unreliable antibody tests for COVID-19 have far more false positives - and scientists aren't even sure if they determine immunity.

This is a blood test that looks for antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19).

"Until we go through those steps, I don't see how we can translate this for the typical person who wants to go back to work", Koh said.

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