What do know about antibody testing for COVID-19

What do know about antibody testing for COVID-19


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Antibody tests for COVID-19 are available at several locations across North Carolina, but doctors say it’s not recommended to assess immunity. 

 

What You Need to Know 

  • An antibody test is a way to see if a person has had previous exposure to COVID-19, either through getting the virus itself or the vaccine 
  • They are usually available at local clinics, pharmacies and some grocery stores 
  • The FDA and doctors say it should not be used to measure a person’s level of immunity to COVID-19 

 

For the last year and a half, Shannon Weatherly has been in a clinical trial for the Pfizer vaccines. She signed up because she wants to be as healthy as possible.

“The last thing I heard on the news is that 2,000 people a day are dying, and I don’t want to be one of them,” Weatherly said. “I don’t want anyone I love or know to be one of them.”

Most recently she was in a trial for the booster vaccine, but she doesn’t know if she got the placebo or the real thing. She decided to have her antibodies tested to see if they are higher than before. If they are, that likely means she got the booster.

“For me, it is important to know because there are breakthrough cases,” Weatherly said. “And also for my own curiosity, to see what the booster is doing, if I do have it.”

Weatherly said her test cost $10 at a health facility in Charlotte. The process involves drawing blood and the whole procedure took less than 10 minutes. The results can be released in as little as 24 hours. Weatherly understands though that this doesn’t fully measure her immunity to COVID-19.

“Even when I get these test results, I don’t even know what that means,” Weatherly said. “What I will know is what the number is compared to the test I had in June.”

Infectious disease doctor with Novant Health, David Priest, says an antibody test only measures one part of your body’s defense system.



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