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COVID-19 ANTIBODY TEST: FAQs

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With the recovery rate rising steadily in the country, everyone wants to know if they could get re-infected with COVID 19 and if getting infected once gives them life long immunity. A recent entry in the battlefield – COVID-19 ANTIBODY TEST holds promise to answer some of these questions. Let us know more about this test and clear our doubts and misconceptions. 

Q: What are antibodies?

Antibodies are special proteins produced by the immune cells of the body in order to fight an infection (antigen-bacterial or viral). They play a very important role in building up body’s defense mechanism against infections.

Q: I am suffering from high grade fever and loss of smell. Should I get my antibody test done?

No. COVID 19 antibody test is not meant for diagnosis. It is a serological test done after a patient has fully recovered from COVID 19 infection. For diagnosis of current infection, ICMR recommends RT-PCR assay or Rapid antigen test for COVID19.

Q: I am positive with COVID19 Antibody test. What does it mean?

Positivity with the antibody test means that you have been exposed to the infection and have developed potential immunity against it. It may give you protection in getting infected again, but there is lack of evidence on how strong this defense this and how long will it last.

Q: I am negative with COVID19 Antibody test. What does it mean?

The antibodies take about 1-3 weeks to develop after onset of infection. Testing early in the course may give negative results. So, one may get the test done at least 14 days after onset of symptoms to check for antibody response. It is therefore very important to get your test done from a laboratory that uses validated and approved kits for COVID19 antibody testing to minimize the risk of false negatives.

Q: What sample will be taken for this antibody test?

Unlike RT-PCR assay, which uses a nasal or throat swab for testing, the antibody test requires a blood sample as it detects antibodies present in your blood.

Q: What all documents do I need to get the COVID19 antibody test done?

An individual has to fill a test requisition form given by the laboratory. No ID proof or doctor’s prescription is required for the test.

Q: I volunteered for plasma donation as I recovered from COVID19 infection. Why did the doctor ask me to get the COVID19 antibody test done?

Before donating plasma to an infected individual, the doctor needs to ascertain if your blood contains the expected amount of antibodies required to fight against the infection. Also, as the antibody levels in blood fall with time, the antibody test is done before every donation.

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