What is COVID-19 Antibody Testing?
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve heard about the limited number of tests that have been available. Because testing is limited, we have known that it’s likely more people have been infected than we know, and we have all been wondering how widespread COVID-19 actually is in our community.
Thanks to a partnership between Fisher-Titus, Family Health Services, and Huron County Public Health, Huron County residents ages 10 and up can receive a COVID-19 antibody test with no out-of-pocket cost. Testing will be offered in New London, Willard, and Norwalk between June 18 and June 29. Appointments are required, no walk-ins will be accepted, and you can schedule your testing by calling 419-663-7511. For those with insurance coverage, the insurance company will be billed so please have your insurance information ready when calling to register.
What is Viral Testing vs. Antibody Testing?
You likely are hearing about two types of testing for COVID-19. A direct test for the COVID 19 virus checks samples from your respiratory system (typically a nasal swab) to see if you are currently infected while a COVID 19 antibody test checks your blood for antibodies that formed when you have recovered indicating you had a past infection.
If you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, your primary care provider can determine whether you may need a direct viral test for COVID-19. Fisher-Titus can test for current COVID-19 infections in-house, but testing requires an order from a physician and an appointment. We also offer Virtual Visits for COVID-19 screening and you can learn more about it at fishertitus.org/virtualvisits.
With more evidence showing COVID-19 may have been in Ohio and spreading earlier than originally thought, many individuals are wondering, “did I already have it?” especially since it is possible to have the virus without ever showing symptoms. This is where COVID 19 antibody testing comes in.
Antibodies are disease-specific proteins called immunoglobulins that help fight off infections and usually provide protection against getting that disease again, also know as immunity. While COVID-19 is a new disease and we continue to learn new things about it every day, it is believed that a COVID-19 antibody test done through a blood draw can determine whether a person was previously infected and now has some immunity to the disease.
How to Understanding Antibody Test Results
Once you have your testing done, it will be a few days before you receive your results
If you test positive, it is likely you were previously infected with COVID-19 or at least were infected with a related virus of the same family.
It is not yet known for sure whether having COVID-19 antibodies protects individuals from getting the virus again or, if they do, how long the protection may last. That’s why it’s important to continue protecting yourself and others by taking precautions even if your antibody test comes back positive. You should talk to your primary care provider about your test result to further understand what it means.
If you had a positive test and currently do not have symptoms, you likely do not have an active infection. If you do have symptoms, it’s possible you may still have an active infection. Talk to your health care provider as they may recommend a viral test to determine if you are currently infected.
If your test was negative, you could still have a current infection. Antibodies take one to three weeks after infection to develop and in some people it may take longer or they may not develop antibodies at all. Depending on the type of test used there can be false negative tests however the type we use at Fisher-Titus is one of the most accurate available and is FDA approved.
Regardless of whether you test positive or negative, it’s important to continue taking steps to protect yourself and others until we know more about COVID-19. However, we understand there is a lot of curiosity from the community about whether they have had the disease. This testing can satisfy that curiosity and also help us better understand how much the disease has spread in our community.
Dr. Gary Moorman is the Chief Medical Officer for Fisher-Titus. Dr. Moorman returned to Fisher-Titus in 2019 after having previously served as Vice President for Medical Affairs from 2011 to 2013. Huron County residents ages 10 and up can now make appointments for antibody testing by calling 419-663-7511between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.