Access to COVID-19 testing remains one of the most critical pieces in addressing the pandemic. Yet in the US, swab tests remain in short supply with a high false-negative reporting rate, meaning people that actually have the virus may wrongly receive a negative test result. A nasal or oral swab, which works by directly detecting the presence of the virus, has an accuracy of only 60% creating a set of unique challenges. Leading infectious disease specialists are now relying on imaging studies such as CT scans of the lung to confirm a diagnosis. Many sick people are not able to get a concrete diagnosis that would inform their treatment, people, without symptoms have no idea if they’ve been exposed to the virus or not, and we still know very little about the virus overall.
I am proud to collaborate with my personal physician Dr. Shamsah Amersi and will be undergoing lab analysis of my blood to test for antibodies, which are specific blood proteins created by your immune system when it comes into contact with a foreign invader. Antibody testing is the only way to detect if you have previously been exposed to the virus.
How does COVID-19 antibody testing work?
Antibody tests, in general, are not new, in fact, they are routinely used for confirming the diagnosis of many viruses such as HIV, herpes, Lyme disease, chickenpox, and even food sensitivities. For COVID-19 antibody testing, there are three different subclasses of antibodies that can be used including immunoglobulin A (IgA), immunoglobulin (IgG), and immunoglobulin M (IgM).
Ig M antibodies are the first made by our body to defend against a new infection. If you test positive for Ig M quarantine will be recommended and you should get a repeat test in 2-3 weeks to see if your body has cleared the virus.
After 7 days following exposure, IgG antibody type appears and the main antibody to the virus. The third antibody, IgA is found in the highest concentration in the lungs where Covid 19 lives.
The test Dr. Amersi now has available for her patients his highly accurate, 97-98% specific for the detection of SARS-CoV2, the virus responsible for covid19.
Things to know as a patient:
- this is a doctor-ordered test, and the results should be interpreted by your doctor.
- it is unknown at this time how long the antibodies remain in the body, and if they will protect you against getting reinfection
- having antibodies does not mean that you are safe from getting a repeat case or that you can abandon caution
- knowing your status with this test will tell you if you have been exposed to the virus as well as whether your body has cleared the virus
Currently, there have been 475.000 cases of Covid 19 in the US. If the antibody testing shows us that there are actually 4,000,000 million who have been exposed to the virus it may suggest that we are much further along the timeline of the pandemic.
Hard hit NY has shown a death rate of 0.5%-1% which people are saying is too low to justify the current lockdown. A mortality rate of 1% is about 2million deaths in our nation which is unprecedented in our nation and unimaginable.