What is the Covid-19 Coronavirus Antibody Test?
The COVID-19 coronavirus antibody test is a blood test which detects whether you’ve developed an immune response (antibodies) specifically to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is useful to show whether you have previously come into contact with the virus or not. Predominantly, it highlights past infection but has some ability to check for current infection. However, due to a limited test window, it does not provide the same level of accuracy as a PCR swab coronavirus test which is the test of choice during an active infection.
When should you have a coronavirus antibody test?
The antibody test is best done 14-21 days after your first symptom(s). The antibody test is both sensitive and specific to the IgG antibody of COVID-19. A positive test result indicates you have had the virus. However, it is not yet known whether this grants any immunity to the virus. This means you may be able to get the virus more than once. A negative test result completed in the correct time frame would suggest you have not previously suffered from COVID-19 and therefore may develop the infection if exposed at a later date.
How does the COVID-19 antibody test work?
Antibody testing is done by having a blood sample taken in clinic by a doctor or nurse, or can be done at home via a finger-prick sample. It is then sent to our laboratory partner for analysis.
Previous testing kits have claimed to give you instant results (based on IgM and IgG antibodies), however, there are questions about the accuracy of these tests. Therefore, we recommend using a lab-based test. Lab-based tests guarantee that results are analysed in a controlled, sterile environment with minimum risk of contamination.
How reliable is the coronavirus antibody test?
Finding a reliable and safe test for our patients has been a priority for us. We have researched many products in partnership with our UK laboratory to ensure the test that we offer provides trusted results. We have chosen to use the Abbott COVID-19 antibody test and our laboratory uses technology created by leading brands for diagnostic tests. The Abbott coronavirus antibody test is 99% accurate and is approved for use by Public Health England. It has also been given the CE mark so shows it complies with EU safety rules.
The test looks for specific IgG antibodies, which appear during an established immune reaction, rather than IgM antibodies which are triggered by an acute immune response and are therefore less reliable.
Antibody testing is a key pillar of the government strategy in boosting overall testing capacity for coronavirus. It is an important part of monitoring the spread of coronavirus. It allows an understanding of those who have recovered from the virus and is a key way to allow businesses to return to some element of normality until a vaccination is ready.
What should I do if I think I have coronavirus now?
The PCR swab coronavirus test will help to establish whether you currently have the active virus. Please do not come into clinic and remember you and your household members will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
The IgG antibody blood test will show you if you have had coronavirus. It can be particularly helpful for “silent carriers” who may have had coronavirus but not experienced any symptoms.
Because there is still so much unknown about coronavirus, we don’t know how long the antibodies will remain in your system. Other coronavirus antibodies, such as ones that cause the common cold, usually stay in the body for 1-2 years. Yet for more serious diseases, like MERS or SARS, the length is still unknown. We know from SARS that having the infection did not grant immunity. However, those experiencing a second infection seemed to have milder symptoms. We will not know whether this is also the case with COVID-19 until further research is available.
Order a Private Coronavirus Antibody Test
Our antibody tests, with the sample taken in the clinic, start from £99 including the appointment. Prices differ depending on whether the sample is taken by a GP or in the HLA-led clinic.
Please note that currently, the antibody test is only available in clinic with the sample taken by a doctor or HLA.