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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Antibody Tests- How It Works & How to Get One
An antibody test is a screening for things called antibodies in your blood. Your body makes these when it fights an infection, like COVID-19. The same thing happens when you get a vaccine, like a flu shot. Thatís how you build immunity to a virus.
You may also hear it called a serology test.
The antibody test isnít checking for the virus itself. Instead, it looks to see whether your immune system -- your bodyís defense against illness -- has responded to the infection.
How Does an Antibody Test Work?
A technician will take a bit of your blood, like through a finger prick. The test looks for one or both kinds of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19:
IgM antibodies, which happen early in an infection IgG antibodies, which are more likely to show up later WEBMD Life's Big Events: Helping Older Adults Manage WebMD shares tips to caregivers about how to help loved ones as they get older. Most people have IgG antibodies about 14 days after symptoms start. They usually stay in your blood long after the infection goes away, but we donít know how long that is for the new coronavirus.
Whatís the Difference Between a Coronavirus Test and an Antibody Test?
A coronavirus test, sometimes called a diagnostic test, looks for signs of active virus. Itís simpler and faster than an antibody test. But it tells you only if you have the virus in your body at the moment when youíre tested.
An antibody test shows that you had the virus at some point in the past. It could be gone, or you could still be contagious.
Why Do We Need Antibody Testing?
You could have SARS-CoV-2 and not know it. Not everyone who gets it has symptoms. Experts hope antibody tests can give health officials a better idea of how common the virus is.
Once scientists know who has had the virus, they can find out how sick it makes most people. And they can study what happens if people who've had it come into contact with it again. Along with other scientific information, this can help researchers understand who might be immune to the virus.
The hope is that people with antibodies to COVID-19 can safely get back to work, and normal life, quicker.
These tests may also help with an experimental treatment for COVID-19 called convalescent plasma. Plasma is the liquid part of your blood.
Researchers are studying how antibodies in plasma donated by people whoíve recovered from COVID-19 might help those who are ill with the virus. Early research shows that this plasma may help sick people get better faster.
You can volunteer to donate plasma through the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. Or ask your local blood donation center for information.
Are Antibody Tests Accurate? Companies make their own claims about the accuracy of their antibody tests. Some say itís up to 100%. Government researchers are studying how well the tests are working, but itís too early to say for sure.
The FDA says it will crack down on any manufacturer that sells a bad test.
Itís important to note that some tests can mistake IgM antibodies from other coronaviruses, such as common cold strains, for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.
What Do the Results Mean for You?
If you test positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, it probably means youíve had the virus at some point of time. Itís also possible to get a ďfalse positiveĒ if you have antibodies but had a different but close type of coronavirus.
If you are not sick a positive result means you have some immunity to the coronavirus. Itís too early to know how strong it is or how long it might last.
A negative result means you havenít come into contact with the virus or you havenít had it long enough to make antibodies. You could also have been exposed and not have antibodies. This is called a false negative.
No matter the result, if you donít have symptoms, you donít need follow-up. But if you do, you should take PCR diagnostic test to look for signs of active virus RNA.
Jun 28, 2020 | www.cbsnews.com
In March, as the United States faced a shortage of COVID-19 diagnostic tests to determine who was currently infected with the virus, the Food and Drug Administration began allowing antibody tests into the country without FDA review or formal clearance.
A COVID-19 molecular diagnostic test, sometimes referred to as a virology test, is often conducted through a nasal or throat swab. It is designed to detect if you presently have the COVID-19 virus.
A COVID-19 antibody test, or serology test, usually involves a blood sample and determines the presence of antibodies, which may signal that you previously had the viral infection.
"The two different types of tests give us complementary information about the pandemic," said Dr. Alex Marson, an infectious disease specialist and the director of the Gladstone UCSF Institute for Genomic Immunology. "The one tells us about who's actively infected. The other tells us who has been infected."
Dr. Marson and Dr. Patrick Hsu, an assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley both told 60 Minutes it is presently unknown if a positive antibody test means protection from future infection.
"We do not know if a positive antibody test means that you have protective immunity," said Dr. Hsu. "It will certainly mean that in some cases, but how much, and for how long, and how many times? We do not yet know. People should not assume that, if you have a positive antibody test that you're immune, [that] you don't need to wear a mask, and [that] you don't need to socially distance."
A small sample size study from China published on June 18 in Nature Medicine found antibodies could fade in as soon as two to three months after the time of infection.
Both Dr. Marson and Dr. Hsu were interviewed by 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi as part of a three-month investigation into the accuracy of antibody tests available in the U.S. The physicians assembled a team of scientists to study the accuracy of COVID-19 antibody tests in early March.
The accuracy of antibody tests are measured by their sensitivity and specificity. The sensitivity refers to a test's ability to determine if someone has COVID-19 antibodies present in his or her body. The specificity refers to a test's ability to distinguish who does not have COVID-19 antibodies.
In the early months of the pandemic, hundreds of companies from around the world were selling antibody tests in the U.S. with varying levels of accuracy.
In May, the FDA amended its policy and began requiring developers of antibody tests to apply for emergency authorization and submit data to prove their tests work. The FBI warns the policy change has not stopped scammers from trying to infiltrate the U.S. market with fraudulent or inferior quality tests.
The FDA also teamed with the other government agencies including the National Institutes of Health to track the accuracy of some antibody tests and on June 18 published performance results for 21 of them.
The FDA's list includes both rapid serology tests that are often processed on-location and tests that require blood samples be sent to a laboratory.
"I will say that the best tests, especially tests where blood samples are being sent off to labs, seem to have responsible test performance characteristics," Dr. Marson told Alfonsi. "Does that mean that they're perfect? No"
The FDA says the prevalence of COVID-19 in a specific area and amongst different groups of people will factor into the likelihood of false positive or false negative results.
"I think when you ever get a positive test, it's important to undergo confirmatory testing, whether with a different antibody test, or an independent test that looks for a different viral antigen, or a different antibody isotype," Dr. Hsu told 60 Minutes. "This will be a way that we can guard against false positives. The statistical likelihood that you would test false positive twice is generally quite unlikely if you use independent tests."
Getting multiple independent tests might be more difficult than it sounds.
Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp are two of the largest laboratory testing providers in the U.S. They have collectively processed more than 3.5 million COVID-19 serology tests.
Quest told 60 Minutes it presently offers antibody tests manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, EUROIMMUN AG, and Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. LabCorp said it currently uses serology tests made by Abbott and Roche.
Both lab companies told 60 Minutes they do not allow patients to choose which antibody test is used ahead of a sample being processed.
Quest said the testing platform used to process a sample depends on a lab's volume and capacity. The company said it can run 200,000 serology tests per day and has conducted 2.1 million since April.
LabCorp said it began serology testing on a limited basis in March and now has the ability to run 300,000 samples a day. It does not disclose the daily volume of antibody testing, but told 60 Minutes it has processed approximately 1.4 million tests so far.
As of June 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 32 million tests have been processed in the U.S. with a positivity rate of 9%. The CDC declined to tell 60 Minutes the specific sources of its aggregated data. A spokesperson told 60 Minutes the 32 million tests include both viral and antibody test results. The CDC also says not all test results are reported to them.
A Government Accountability Office report released on June 25, 2020 says the watchdog agency found that the CDC has made mistakes in its collection of data about COVID-19 testing. It says the CDC was gathering data about testing that combined antibody tests with diagnostic tests in their overall testing numbers, a practice that has been criticized by scientists as mixing apples and oranges.
The CDC made an effort to correct this practice and advise states to separate virology and serology test results, but the overall testing numbers from prior to June may still be inaccurate. Given the problems with accuracy of some antibody tests, it is also unclear whether all antibody positives should be considered true positives.
The video above was produced by Keith Zubrow and Sarah Shafer Prediger. It was edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger.
Sep 24, 2020 | www.nbcnews.com
Sept. 1, 2020
People may have antibodies for at least four months after they get COVID-19, a study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests.
The study pulled from a massive dataset from Iceland, looking for the presence of antibodies in more than 30,000 blood samples. The samples came from three groups of people: those with confirmed COVID-19 cases, those who had been exposed to the virus but weren't necessarily infected, and those who had no known exposure.
The researchers focused on a small subset of 487 people who had had more than one antibody test, which allowed researchers to see whether antibody levels remained stable or faded over time. In this group, the researchers found, antibody levels increased in the first two months after diagnosis and remained stable for the next two months.
Stefánsson said the study detected antibodies in a significant number of people who had been asymptomatic and were never tested for COVID-19.
Not everyone developed antibodies after infection, the authors wrote, suggesting that some people might have weaker immune responses to the virus. It's possible, however, that those people had false positive diagnostic tests and were never sick in the first place.
The researchers noted several other interesting trends. Antibody levels were higher in older patients and in those with more severe disease. Women also had lower antibody levels compared to men, and smokers had lower antibody levels than nonsmokers.
"What they're seeing here is that they're inducing a pretty strong immune response," said Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor of medical microbiology & infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
But while the data suggest that antibody levels remain stable for at least four months, questions remain.
"What we don't know is really the million-dollar question: How do these antibodies reflect immunity against this virus and inhibition of this virus," said Kindrachuk, who wasn't involved with the research. "Just because you see antibodies being produced, it doesn't tell you that those antibodies are going to act specifically against the virus."
In other words, it's unclear whether the antibodies will protect people from being reinfected.
Confirmed cases of people being reinfected with the coronavirus are exceedingly rare. Last week, it was reported that four people were reinfected, the only such instances out of more than 25 million cases worldwide.
In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its quarantine guidelines, saying people with confirmed COVID-19 didn't need to be tested again for three months if they didn't develop any symptoms.
The study isn't the first to show that antibodies can stick around for some time after infection.
The data in the new study are in line with those in a July preprint article showing that antibody levels were stable for at least three months in patients who had recovered from the virus in New York City, said Elitza Theel, director of the infectious diseases serology laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Jul 24, 2020 | www.msn.com
We Find the Best $500 Cars to Field in the 24 Hours of Lemons Race Series Sources: Trump erupted over Esper's flag ban
Study identifies six different "types" of COVID-19
A new study of COVID-19 , based on data from a symptom tracker app, determined that there are six distinct "types" of the disease involving different clusters of symptoms. The discovery could potentially open new possibilities for how doctors can better treat individual patients and predict what level of hospital care they would need.
Researchers from King's College London studied data from approximately 1,600 U.K. and U.S. patients who regularly logged their symptoms in the COVID Symptom Tracker App in March and April.
Typically, doctors will look for key symptoms such as cough, fever and loss of the sense of smell to detect COVID-19. The study, which has not been peer-reviewed, says the six different "types" of COVID-19 can vary by severity and come with their own set of symptoms.
"I think it's very, very interesting," Dr. Bob Lahita, who is not affiliated with the study, told CBSN anchors Vladimir Duthiers and Anne-Marie Green. "Among the patients I see, those who recovered, many of them present different ways: some people with fever and some without fever, and some with nausea and vomiting, some people with diarrhea , etc."
The six clusters of symptoms outlined in the study are:
- Flu-like with no fever: Headache, loss of smell, muscle pains, cough, sore throat, chest pain, no fever.
- Flu-like with fever: Headache, loss of smell, cough, sore throat, hoarseness, fever, loss of appetite.
- Gastrointestinal: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, diarrhea, sore throat, chest pain, no cough.
- Severe level one, fatigue: Headache, loss of smell, cough, fever, hoarseness, chest pain, fatigue.
- Severe level two, confusion: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain.
- Severe level three, abdominal and respiratory: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain, shortness of breath, diarrhea, abdominal pain.
The first level, "flu-like with no fever," is associated with headaches, loss of smell, muscle pains, cough, sore throat and chest pain. Patients at this level have a 1.5% chance of needing breathing support such as oxygen or a ventilator.
The second type, "flu-like with fever," includes symptoms like loss of appetite, headache, loss of smell, cough, sore throat, hoarseness and fever. Researchers say about 4.4% of patients at this level needed breathing support.
Patients with the third type, simply described as "gastrointestinal," do not have a cough as part of their illness. Instead, they experience headache, diarrhea, loss of smell, loss of appetite, sore throat and chest pain, and about 3.3% needed breathing support.
Lahita referred to the following three clusters of COVID-19 as the "really severe types."
In type four, or "severe level one," patients experience fatigue along with headache, loss of smell, cough, fever, hoarseness and chest pain. Patients at this level needed breathing support at a rate of 8.6%.
Type five, "severe level two," includes the symptoms of type four along with loss of appetite, sore throat and muscle pain, and is mainly distinguished by confusion .
"That means you don't know where you are or where you live, whether you are in or out of the hospital, who your relatives are," Lahita explained. "That is very scary." Almost 10% of patients at that level need breathing support.
The most severe type of COVID-19 is referred to as "severe level three, abdominal and respiratory," and has all the above symptoms along with abdominal pain, shortness of breath and diarrhea. Nearly 20% of these patients need breathing support.
"Those are the severe level threes who wind up on a ventilator, and then it is touch-and-go as to whether they survive the infection entirely," Lahita said.
The U.K. researchers also found that only 16% of patients with type one COVID-19 required hospitalization, compared with nearly half of the patients with type six.
Patients in the severe clusters also tended to be older or with pre-existing conditions and weakened immune systems, compared to those in the first three.
Scientists hope the discovery, once further studied, could help predict what types of care patients with COVID-19 might need, and give doctors the ability to predict which patients would fall into which category.
"I'm very happy that these six types have been identified and can give us an idea of a prognosis going forward for patients who are afflicted with this virus," Lahita said.
Jul 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Mina , Jul 3 2020 12:57 utc | 134
"The current work suggests that while the G614 variant may be more infectious, it is not more pathogenic. There is a hope that as SARS-CoV-2 infection spreads, the virus might become less pathogenic,"
i.e. that if schools had been left open, it would have spread and became less pathogenic earlier.
Jun 11, 2020 | video.foxnews.com
WHO now says asymptomatic spread of coronavirus is 'very rare'
Jun. 09, 2020 - 4:06 - World Health Organization changes its tune on asymptomatic patients spreading COVID-19; reaction from Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel.
Jun 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Richard Steven Hack , Jun 11 2020 0:18 utc | 48
Coronavirus confusion reigns as World Health Organisation scrambles advice about masks and asymptomatic spreadAlthough numerous studies have suggested people can spread the virus before they show symptoms, the WHO has largely dismissed those as anecdotal or pointed out that they were based on modelling.
Babak Javid, an infectious diseases doctor at Cambridge University Hospital, says many scientists are persuaded by the studies published so far and think WHO should publish the data it is citing to explain why it believes transmission of the disease in people without symptoms is "rare".
"If you're going to make a really important statement like that, it would be good to back it up," Javid said. "I think WHO is an important organisation, but they've made a lot of statements that have been misleading."
Jun 10, 2020 | video.foxnews.com
Reaction and analysis from Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel.
May 05, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com
Deap , 04 May 2020 at 01:44 PMWhat does an anti-body test do? I just had one last week and awaiting the results - was a cruise passenger and international air passenger during the month of January in a later suspected area. (not Asia).turcopolier , 04 May 2020 at 01:47 PM
Here is why I did the anti-body test: (Quest Labs - fee service, no RX- 99% accuracy - drawn blood vial test)
1. Helps substantiate dates and areas of transmission that may not yet be in the data pool.
2. Tracks the rates of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases occurring among the "elderly", in order to see if there is an enhanced risk of not in this age group, if there are no underlying co-morbidities.
3. Adds demographic data specific for the travel industry.
4. Allows possible donation of anti-body serum for research and perhaps mitigation of those who are affected.
5. Personal peace of mind -been there and done that. Freedom to move about.
6. Provides baseline for duration of immunity; resilience of immunity or data showing re-infection can be possible.
Primarily it is for data gathering to help stop the hysteria. That was worth the time, money and blood donation for me. We will never know the true extent of this virus, its impacts, its initial modeling accuracy until we start plugging facts into the "expert" hypotheticals.
Taking one for the team is the way I see it. Will I now become a local Typhoid Mary and our house burned down if this data becomes known? Or will people stop walking out into the roadway in faux deference to my advanced age as I pass by, from our deliciously virtue signaling "progressive" population in blue state California.Deap
"Provides baseline for duration of immunity; resilience of immunity or data showing re-infection can be possible. Primarily it is for data gathering to help stop the hysteria." Yes
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