Monday, December 14, 2020

Should I Get a Covid-19 Antibody Test?

So another super common question that our patients ask is whether or not to get a Covid-19 antibody test. My thoughts...

Well, first have to explore the reasons behind the testing.

If you are a confirmed positive Covid patient who has recovered and you hope to donate plasma, then you can consider the test. However, the quality of the test varies.  You can see here FDA's updated list of different tests being offered by different companies and how their performance varies. You would have to check what is being offered in your area.

If you are a confirmed positive Covid patient and hope to have antibodies so you don't get sick again, you may want to reconsider whether or not you really want this test.  First of all, the test may not be accurate and your result may be either:
  • false-positive - tells you you have antibodies but really you don't, so you'd have a false sense of security
  • false-negative - tells you you do not have antibodies but really you do
However, even if you do have a true positive antibody to Covid-19, there is not enough evidence to guarantee that you will not get re-infected. So from a practical point of view, regardless of the results, you still have to practice all the same social distancing guidelines as anyone else.

If you are not a confirmed positive Covid patient but think you had it, the same rules above apply.

I get it that a lot of people want to know if that terrible cold they had back in January or last November could have been Covid.  In fact, I want to know myself! However, I am personally waiting for more evidence to come out and for a more accurate test to be available in my area.  Based on the limited data I've seen so far from the antibody testing that our office has ordered, I do not have much confidence in the accuracy or value of that particular test. Plus, since it does not change the management of care or the advice we give, I find little use for it.

As always, contact your physician for a more in-depth discussion. You can find out more about antibody testing in your area and whether or not you are a candidate for it.

So what is the best way to prevent getting sick?
  • practice social distancing (mask and 6 feet apart!)
  • wash your hands frequently (avoid touching your face)
  • get adequate sleep (sleep sleep sleep!)
  • eat healthy (vegetables!)
  • exercise (even if just 15min a day!)
  • decrease stress (carve time for yourself daily)
Stay safe, everyone! It's beginning to look a lot like...