InStyle – Kylie Gilbert
A few weeks ago, my group texts were buzzing with one topic: antibody tests. Namely: Now that these tests are more widely available, should I get one? Can I trust that the results are accurate? And, if I do have the antibodies… what does that actually mean? Should I still stay inside?
Coronavirus may have shifted to the background of our concerns amid country-wide protests against police brutality, but many are wondering whether getting an antibody test is a helpful tool that can provide clarity or peace of mind as the country re-opens (and cases spike). So, can these tests do that?
We spoke with experts to unpack what we know and don’t know right now about the antibody tests currently available — and what you should actually do with the results.
What’s an antibody test — and how is it different from a test for COVID-19?
If this is the first time you’re hearing about antibody tests, here’s the gist: Antibody tests, also referred to as “serological” tests, check the blood for the presence of antibodies, aka proteins the body makes in response to an infection.
Antibody tests can be broken down into two general types: qualitative, which gives you a yes/no result — yes, you had COVID-19, or no you didn’t — and quantitative, which tells you how much of an antibody you have, explains Sandra Kesh, M.D., infectious disease specialist and deputy medical director at Westmed Medical Group in New York. Antibodies also usually provide some level of protection or immunity from getting that infection again.