COVID-19 Antibody Testing: A Personal Perspective

COVID-19 Antibody Testing: A Personal Perspective

  • This page was last updated at September 20, 2020.

On April 15th, I confirmed that I was a COVID-19 virgin. But does it really matter? For me it does, because I stay with older family members. I also must travel inter-state at times and don’t have insurance. For me, being a silent carrier of COVID-19 or getting infected could lead to major consequences. To be sure, my background as a scientist has kept me well informed and taking the most vigilant precautions. These include:

  • Not going in stores and using curbside and delivery options
  • Staying inside as much as possible, ideally at least 10 days at a time
  • Wearing PPE like a mask and gloves when I leave the house
  • Practicing good hand hygiene
  • Staying at least six feet away from others
  • Not gathering with others

Being Low-Risk for COVID-19

Indeed, these are all things (except the PPE) that I was already doing on a regular basis! Since I work remotely many of the things you do to prevent COVID-19 infection were already part of my lifestyle. I am a gold-star quarantine. However, I still thought I should get the COVID-19 antibody test, and here’s why.

Why Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test

As mentioned, I currently stay with older relatives. I travel between Minnesota and Texas to do this. Before I heard in February that COVID-19 was coming to America I was also planning to travel West. I have also been the designated runner for the household, so I am the one getting most exposed to the community.

I had also been on the road since the beginning of the year so I was exposed to several states. With the need to travel again at the end of the month, I wanted to be sure I was not tracking the virus from the high COVID-19 infection rate in Texas to the less COVID-19 infected Minnesota community.

Where to Get the COVID-19 Antibody Test

Many people are wondering where to get COVID-19 antibody testing. In seconds of a Google search, I found a laboratory that had just gotten the COVID-19 antibody test in and was taking appointments. BlueStar (formerly ACRpoint) Diagnostic Labs is an independent national network of diagnostic laboratories.

Normally I only have to go to these places for pre-employment drug testing. However, being a former laboratory scientist I knew right where to look. Being a content writer, I knew just the right words to search: “COVID-19 antibody testing laboratories Dallas.” And I knew to skip to page 2 of Google to find actual COVID-19 laboratories vs COVID-19 news stories.

The next challenge was that the company website had broken links. So I just searched for them in my map app and gave them a call.

What It’s Like to Get the COVID-19 Antibody Test

Getting the COVID-19 test is an easy and comfortable process. The COVID-19 testing lab I used uses a simple finger-prick test that provides results in minutes. They asked that masks be worn to the appointment and the lab was disinfected between each patient. There were only two technicians working, and both were kind, welcoming, and friendly.

antibody-test

They simply pricked my fingertip and placed my blood on the little test (pregnancy test looking cassette). The cost of the test was just $75.00. 

What is a COVID-19 Antibody Test

The COVID-19 antibody test looks just like a pregnancy test or a drug test. Instead of placing the test strip in urine, a couple of drops of blood are placed in a well at the end of the strip. The different results will appear as the absence or presence of red lines in the window of the test strip. This is because of the different antibodies in the blood. They trigger color-changing reactions at different locations on the test strip.

The COVID-19 antibody tests are designed to evaluate the presence or absence of biological markers in the blood. These markers can tell a lot about potential resistance to the virus. However, if a person is asymptomatic or showing some signs of possible infection, further testing is needed to make a diagnosis of COVID-19 infection.

How to Read a COVID-19 Antibody Test Results

As a COVID-19 virgin, my antibody test result was “Negative IgG, Negative IgM.” But what does that mean, and what other results are possible?

Negative IgG, Negative IgM

In rare cases, this test result can indicate a person is an asymptomatic carrier of the COVID-19 virus. Most often it means that a person has not had any exposure to the COVID-19 virus and needs to continue taking precautions like social distancing, strictly following stay at home procedures, and wearing masks in public.

Negative IgG, Positive IgM

This COVID-19 antibody test result means that a person is in the early stages of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. A person with this antibody response may not be showing symptoms of infection. However, they could be contagious and illness may occur. This test result suggests that a person should stay inside and socially distance themselves. Symptom development needs to be monitored. Take note of when symptoms stop and self-isolate for another five to seven days. If symptoms reappear, the five to seven day period must be restarted.

Positive IgG, Positive IgM

This test result indicates that a person has had a recent COVID-19 infection. If they have been asymptomatic for at least seven days it could be safe for them to return to work. Guidelines for social distancing, stay at home orders, and other precautions should be taken. Always follow state guidelines and doctor recommendations.

Positive IgG, Negative IgM

This COVID-19 antibody test result indicates that a person has been previously infected with COVID-19. The person may have functional immunity to COVID-19 re-infection. Depending on local guidelines, it could be safe for this person to return to work. However, social distancing, stay at home orders, and other precautions should still be taken.

FDA-Approved COVID-19 Tests

The COVID-19 antibody test I got was not “FDA-Approved.” It was accepted for use by the FDA under the Emergency Use Act. The test was “CE-Approved” which means it was produced under European standards. These standards are much like the ones used by the FDA but have slight differences.

Final Thoughts on COVID-19 Antibody Tests

My experience of getting a COVID-19 antibody test was totally stress-free. With my results, I know that I need to continue following best practices. I could become infected at any point, and test results are just a snapshot of my status as of that day.

As talk about lifting stay at home orders ramps up, I have a lot of concern about how this will make going out even more dangerous for me. Luckily, I work remotely and can continue to stay at home and socially distance indefinitely.

For most, this is not a practical option. Getting yourself tested for COVID-19 antibodies can help you make informed decisions with your own health in mind. It is a simple and affordable option that anyone can access.

Here are just some of the laboratories offering COVID-19 antibody testing.

ARUP Laboratories: PCR COVID-19 test for diagnosis
Quest Diagnostics: COVID-19 test processing, a doctor that works with them must be seen to get their test
ARCpoint Labs: COVID-19 antibody testing
DIAZYME Laboratories: COVID-19 antibody testing
Accessa Labs: COVID-19 antibody testing