What is a Coronavirus antibody test?

What is a Coronavirus antibody test? Explained: How they work and what they do?

The tests attempt to define whether a person has been exposed to the virus.

coronavirus test

Health executives in Germany, the UK, and the US are looking at antibody testing to understand when and how their countries could open up. Some governments are even considering issuing “immunity passports” that would benefit key workers carefully and quickly return to their duties.
Infectious disease specialists warn that antibody tests could eventually expose much about how the virus spreads and how dangerous it is; it is too early to draw any precise results from screening examinations.

What is a Coronavirus antibody test?

PCR tests, the diagnostic tests most generally used to conclude whether somebody is right now infected with the coronavirus, views the virus’s genetic elements in samples obtained from patients’ throats or noses.

Antibody tests, or serology tests, first looking for the virus itself, identify antibodies or proteins in the blood that our bodies produce to fight it off. “These tests inform you that you’ve been exposed to the Coronavirus,” told Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale medical school. “Antibody tests can generally give us records of the infection.”

What are these antibodies we are testing for?

An antibody is a bespoke weaponry that our bodies produce to battle off a pathogen. Our bodies may make different types of antibodies uniquely designed to attack the coronavirus over one or two weeks.

“Think about these pictures of the coronavirus you’ve most usually seen,” said Diane Griffin, an immunologist, and microbiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “You know these large, blobby spikes on the surface of the coronavirus? That is the piece of the virus particle that connects to healthy cells to attack and infect them.”

Antibodies to these spikes on the virus glom on to them and coat them – leaving them powerless to capture our cells. Other kinds of antibodies may mark infected cells, so other cells can destroy them before the infection spreads further. Some of those antibodies will attach in our blood long after the virus is gone, defending us from future infections.

We know that antibodies toward certain pathogens – such as smallpox – can protect for a lifetime. Antibodies for other infections lead to fade: Antibody levels in people who had overcome from Sars and Mers decreased over the course from one or two years.

Scientists are still working to figure out how much of which antibodies give people immunity to the novel coronavirus. Once they do, perfect lab tests could tell patients with a certain “antibody level” that they’re safe from viruses. The typical antibody tests would “give you results – comparable to how people are used to receiving a cholesterol value, or a sugar level”, told Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan school of public health.

The Rapid Coronavirus Antibody Test with Results in Under 15 Minutes

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How do the Covid-19 antibody test work?

There are two main kinds of antibody tests: rapid tests that take a finger prick of blood and tell whether a person has antibodies, and tests that use a lab technique named Elisa and show the quantity of antibodies present.

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Coronavirus Antibody Test Process

Comparable types of antibody tests are made through a simple blood draw. Once the blood is extracted, the specimen is analyzed to measure what level of antibodies are in the blood. In the case of a COVID-19 antibody test, the blood test analyses for coronavirus antibodies that suggest that one has produced antibodies to coronavirus. When they occur, COVID-19 IgG antibodies take up to 14 days to develop following an infection. At this time, the connection between the presence of COVID-19 IgG antibodies and immunity to SARS-CoV-2 has not yet happened & firmly established.

And are the antibody test accurate?

In a preliminary study written this month, a team of researchers sought to verify the 14 coronavirus antibody tests currently accessible in the US and found that false positives are about 3%-2% of the time.

So, when can I get an ‘immunity passport’?

Not for a while, it would appear. Last week, the World Health Organization warned that the detection of antibodies alone shouldn’t serve as a basis for an “immunity passport” – because scientists don’t know how much of which antibodies will protect people from reinfection.

To get there, we need to collect lots of data over time from lots of people who have had the infection and developed antibodies, explained Yale’s Iwasaki – and track who gets reinfected, and who remains immune.

Does it still make sense to test everyone for antibodies?

Germany is planning to conduct nationwide antibody testing. In California, researchers have sought to test nearly everyone in the small town of Bolinas, and in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco, administering both PCR and antibody tests.

By using blood samples to conduct lab tests, scientists will be able to try more than one antibody test on the blood, verifying and validating their results, Griffin said. Eventually, these large-scale testing efforts could provide more information about how many people within a community have had the coronavirus. Tallying the number of infections and the levels of antibodies and tracking these communities over time could answer critical questions about how widely the virus has spread, who has immunity and how long that immunity lasts.

“Once we know the answers to these key questions, maybe then we can issue immunity passports,” Iwasaki said. “Until then, we need to be patient.”

The Rapid Coronavirus Antibody Test with Results in Under 15 Minutes

Find Out More

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