COVID-19 Antibody Testing

Why it’s impor­tant and what we can learn from it

Day by day, we’re learn­ing more about the COVID-19 virus and how to fight it. Anti­body test­ing is prov­ing to be a pow­er­ful tool for the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty in this fight, though there con­tin­ues to be con­fu­sion and mis­un­der­stand­ing about its pur­pose and mean­ing. The fol­low­ing infor­ma­tion out­lines what you should know about COVID-19 anti­body test­ing and how to get one for yourself.

What does anti­body test­ing look for?

Sim­ply put, an anti­body test looks for the pres­ence of anti­bod­ies in your blood. Anti­bod­ies are spe­cif­ic pro­teins that your body makes in response to an infec­tion. Pres­ence of COVID-19 anti­bod­ies in your body indi­cate you had the viral infec­tion and may show an immune response to it, even if you nev­er expe­ri­enced any symptoms. 

It is impor­tant to note that while these tests can deter­mine who had the virus, we are not yet cer­tain if anti­bod­ies cre­at­ed in response to the COVID-19 infec­tion will pro­vide immu­ni­ty and/​or how long any immu­ni­ty will last. The CDC con­tin­ues to con­duct stud­ies on COVID-19 immu­ni­ty to deter­mine the answers to these questions.

How is the anti­body test performed?

Anti­body test­ing is per­formed by a blood test, either through a blood draw or fin­ger prick. This dif­fers from the swab test per­formed to deter­mine active COVID-19 infec­tion cases.

DuPage Med­ical Group uses the Roche COVID-19 anti­body test and is the first out­pa­tient med­ical group to obtain this test nation­al­ly. The Roche test is the most accu­rate anti­body test avail­able, with a high sen­si­tiv­i­ty that approach­es 100% that pro­vides us with the best results possible. 

What do the anti­body test results mean?

If your anti­body test results are NEG­A­TIVE, it is unlike­ly you had COVID-19 more than 14 days ago. 

  • Test sen­si­tiv­i­ty decreas­es if you acquired COVID-19 less than 14 days ago, as your body is in the process of build­ing up anti­bod­ies to an active infection.
  • In that case, COVID-19 PCR test­ing for an active infec­tion may be your best option to deter­mine an active viral infection.
  • Fol­low up with your doc­tor if you’re hav­ing active symptoms.

If your anti­body test results are POS­I­TIVE, it is very like­ly you had COVID-19 at some point.

  • You will not require fur­ther COVID-19 test­ing, even if you did not show symp­toms in the past 14 days.
  • If you test pos­i­tive and cur­rent­ly show symp­toms, and/​or live or work with some­one who is at-risk, you will need to self-quar­an­tine imme­di­ate­ly and check with your doc­tor to see if fur­ther COVID-19 test­ing is warranted.

Why is anti­body test­ing important?

There are many ben­e­fits to test­ing for COVID-19 anti­bod­ies, which in turn, help us under­stand the virus and how to lessen its spread and impact on our communities.

  • Pro­vides you with knowl­edge and con­fi­dence: sim­ply know­ing whether you had the virus or not can put your mind at ease or allow you to mon­i­tor and adjust your activ­i­ties in the com­mu­ni­ty or at work accordingly.
  • Rein­forces our need to keep social dis­tance: some peo­ple may have assumed they had COVID-19 in the past, eas­ing up on their need to keep social­ly dis­tant as a result. Know­ing the truth about your COVID-19 expo­sure and sta­tus is crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant in pre­vent­ing spread of the infec­tion in the community.
  • Helps us under­stand and track the virus: know­ing who had the virus, whether or not they showed symp­toms, enables the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty to under­stand how com­mon COVID-19 is. This in turn helps us mon­i­tor its spread, look for com­mon trends and devel­op treat­ments and prac­tices in efforts over­come the virus.

How can I get an anti­body test?

Anti­body test­ing is avail­able to any­body who requests it. If you would like to get an anti­body test, please call your pri­ma­ry care provider. Your physi­cian will need to order the test for you and will talk with you about your cur­rent health his­to­ry and symp­toms to con­firm the anti­body test is the right test for you at this time. Your physi­cian will also direct you to the best DuPage Med­ical Group loca­tion near you for testing. 

If you would like to learn more about anti­body test­ing, COVID-19, pre­ven­tion tips, DuPage Med­ical Group clin­i­cal safe­ty and more, please vis­it our com­mu­ni­ty health update page or call 1−888−693−6437 for addi­tion­al information.

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