Is the Covid-19 Antibody Test Right for You?

Written by Dr. Ryner Lai
June 21, 2021

With the Covid-19 virus still around, there is a need for accurate information regarding the type of Covid-19 tests available, and whether one is required. 


In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers official recommendations regarding issues surrounding Covid-19, such as testing, vaccines, and treatment. The CDC recommends that anyone with signs and symptoms of Covid-19 be tested, regardless of prior infection or vaccination status. However, there is a big difference between the tests.


Types of Covid-19 Tests 

There are 2 types of Covid-19 tests available: viral tests and antibody tests. Let’s look at both of them. 


Viral Test

This test is the more common Covid-19 testing method as is what is usually meant when Covid-19 testing is discussed in the media. This test looks for whether the virus is currently present in your body. There are two types of viral tests: nucleic acid amplification tests and antigen tests. 


Your healthcare provider will take samples from your nose or mouth and send them to the lab to see if they contain samples of the virus. A positive result indicates that you are currently infected with the Covid-19 virus. 


Antibody Test 

This test checks to see if your body has antibodies against the Covid-19 virus, which is an indication of a past Covid-19 infection. Antibodies are produced by your body’s immune cells when the body has been exposed to an antigen, e.g. a virus. When the body is exposed to the same (or similar) antigen for a second time, the infection can be easily fought off. 


This means that the antibody test is usually only useful to indicate whether you have had a previous infection to Covid-19. It is not meant to test for a current infection. The CDC states that “an antibody test may not show if you have a current infection because it can take 1–3 weeks after the infection for your body to make antibodies.” 


Getting Tested 

If you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or body aches, you might want to order a test in order to protect yourself and others. You might also want to get tested if you wish to travel overseas as some countries require a negative Covid-19 test prior to entry. 

QuickMD gives you the option to book a doctor’s appointment and get a lab test ordered via telemedicine.

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