Should I get an antibody test if I have symptoms?
No. The antibody test’s evaluation of whether you have the virus (IgM) is less accurate than the PCR test, so for sick patients, we continue to recommend a PCR swab test in order to drive treatment decisions.
How do I get my antibody test?
We will send it to you with detailed instructions, all the materials you need (test cassette, alcohol swab, lancer, pipette), and a guide on how to interpret the results. The test will arrive in 2 to 3 days. If you would prefer a house call, the standard $1,000 fee applies. Due to high demand, tests are for members only.
What’s the difference between PCR swab tests and antibody tests?
The current swab test uses PCR technology to discover the presence of the virus and determine whether you’ve been exposed. It is the most accurate way to see if you have Covid-19. The antibody blood test looks at your body’s response to an exposure. It identifies whether you may be currently infected (IgM) or whether you have had it in the past (IgG). However, the antibody test is less accurate than the PCR test.
Will the antibody test tell me if I had Covid previously and if I am immune?
The antibody test should identify the build-up of long-term antibodies (IgG) that may indicate you have had Covid-19. It is still not known if you can contract the disease again, although we believe the presence of IgG antibodies suggests some immunity. However, there is the potential of a false positive, where the antibodies identified are in fact caused by non-Covid-19 pathogens. For this reason, we do not change our social distancing or treatment recommendations based on this test.
Why should I take a photo of my results?
It will help us interpret your results if you have any questions.
Which antibody test kits are you using?
After careful consideration of the latest studies, we’re offering a self-administered finger prick cassette test supplied by Premier Biotech and a blood draw platform from Diazyme Laboratories. These tests perform as well as the most accurate ones on the market. However, we want to emphasize that there are still many issues with antibody tests, and none should be used to drive clinical decision making.
Hypothetically, what might various results indicate?
Unfortunately, the current inaccuracy of these tests makes their results largely inconclusive. There are many potential scenarios and outcomes, but several of the factors below may be of interest.
- If you come back negative for all antibodies you should presume you have not had the disease, and thus continue to be cautious of contracting it with social distancing protocols (which frankly you should do with any result). If you thought you had Covid-19 and are surprised at a negative result, it could be a false negative, but it could also be an indication that either you didn’t have Covid-19 or you didn’t build antibodies—both of which mean you’re likely still at risk.
- If you register IgG-positive, IgM-positive or both and you have not previously had Covid-19 as far as you know, you may have been an asymptomatic carrier or it could be a false positive. You could get a PCR test to ensure you are not contagious and to drive any medical treatment decision if needed.
- If you register IgM-positive and previously had a positive PCR test for Covid-19, then the result implies your body is still battling the infection. You are potentially still contagious and may want to get an additional PCR test to confirm that the virus has run its course, roughly 2 to 3 weeks from the onset of your initial symptoms. There are cases when IgM antibodies are still present even after the virus is no longer present.
- If you register IgG-positive and previously had a positive PCR test for Covid-19 or had very Covid-specific symptoms (such as fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath and/or loss of taste or smell), then the result may suggest some level of immunity to the disease. Without confirmation of having had Covid-19 in the past (or even with it), a positive IgG may mean nothing. And you may even still be contagious.