Antibody Testing at MEC
As the coronavirus pandemic continues in the United States, doctors and scientists are researching and developing more effective treatments, and working towards prevention. Testing is available for patients with symptoms who meet specific qualifications, but if you were sick and unable to be tested, or had been exposed to COVID-19 but may have been asymptomatic, you may be interested in antibody testing.
What is Antibody Testing?
Whenever we get sick, our immune systems create antibodies that help fight off the infection and remain in the bloodstream to help protect us from getting ill from the same virus in the future. An antibody test is a lab test that analyzes your blood to determine if your immune system has created antibodies. Because antibodies are disease-specific, this test is especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic to help indicate if you may have been infected and recovered. An antibody test will not indicate if you currently have COVID-19 as antibodies typically take 1 – 3 weeks after an infection to develop.
Reading the Results
If you test positive for coronavirus antibodies, you may be protected from reinfection, but it’s unclear how effective that protection is, or how long it lasts, so continued safety precautions are recommended. While a positive result could indicate prior COVID-19 infection, it’s possible the antibodies may have been created from a viral infection that is in the same family of viruses, including the common cold. Your healthcare provider may have you take another test to confirm the positive result.
Testing negative simply indicates you have not been infected with the COVID-19 virus, or your body never developed antibodies. However, if you are currently experiencing symptoms, or had them fairly recently, it’s possible the test was performed too early and the antibodies are not yet present. To determine if you may currently be infected, you would need to have a viral test performed.
Regardless of your test result, it’s possible you could still transmit the virus to others, so continue taking the necessary safety precautions to protect those around you, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
Use Your Antibodies for Good
For those who have previously been infected with the coronavirus, fully recovered, and have antibodies present in their blood, it’s possible to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. Using donated plasma is currently being investigated as an effective treatment as it has been shown in some hospitalized patients to aid in recovery by shortening the duration of the illness or prevent death. If you receive a positive result from your antibody test, consider discussing the option of donating plasma with your physician.
Where to Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test
Midwest Express Clinic is now offering antibody testing by appointment only at all locations. Prior to making an appointment, we require you to be symptom free for at least 14 days. When you come for your visit, remain in your vehicle and call our office to let us know you have arrived. Once you are cleared to enter, our medical staff will perform a simple blood draw for testing. Results will be provided to you within 3 – 4 days. Call your nearest Midwest Express Clinic location today to make an appointment for your coronavirus antibody test.