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Will Antibody Testing Help with COVID-19?

Blood samples

July 06, 2020

Antibody testing is a hot topic in the context of the novel coronavirus pandemic. We may view it as a light at the end of the tunnel we’re in, but is it? Is it the key to learning who’s had the virus? And will it tell us who is safe from catching the virus again?

To discuss options for swab or antibody testing, contact your primary care provider.

COVID-19 testing vs. antibody testing

Let’s cover the basics here.

Our health system recently began conducting antibody testing, adding it as a testing option along with the commonly used PCR (polymerise chain reaction) testing. There are important differences between the tests and situations in which one or the other is the better choice.

Which COVID-19 test is right for me?

You should follow your doctor’s advice in getting PCR or antibody tests. In general, you should get a PCR test to try to determine whether you may be currently infected with COVID-19. It’s important to know, for example, if you are ill and need to isolate, or if you are planning other medical care, like a surgery, that could be dangerous if you have COVID-19. You should get an antibody test if you believe you may have had COVID-19. Those results may come to be helpful in knowing whether you have protection against future infection. And, antibody test results are helpful in studying populations as a whole.

How helpful is antibody testing in the COVID-19 pandemic?

The emergence of reliable antibody testing presents a valuable opportunity, but we just don’t know enough about the level of protection antibodies provide or for how long. We are learning. In the meantime, the pillars of infection control – hand hygiene, physical distancing, wearing masks and coughing or sneezing into your sleeve or elbow – still hold true for all and provide the best protection against COVID-19.

Learn more about COVID-19 testing.

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