Wondering if what you thought was nasty flu
a few weeks back may have been COVID-19?
Or if you may be one of the fortunate individuals
who are asymptomatic,
and have had it without even knowing?
What is the main difference between a COVID-19 test and a COVID-19 antibody test?
Unlike a COVID-19 diagnosis test, which is done with a nose swab to determine if you are currently infected, the COVID-19 antibody test is done with a blood test. Clicks pharmacies now offer a rapid finger-prick one that gives results within about 10 minutes and costs R199. Rachel Wrigglesworth, Clicks Chief Commercial Officer, reports that the test has 97% accuracy and has been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority
What can you expect during your COVID-19 antibody test at Clicks?
A pharmacy nurse will draw blood from a finger prick, which is analysed by a device that detects antibodies you may have developed against the coronavirus. Antibodies are proteins produced by your immune system in response to an infecting pathogen, to against fight it. There are two main types, note the Scientists Collective, a group of leading South African medical scientists and academics.
IgM antibodies appear first, about a week after infection, then disappear again after weeks or months. IgG antibodies appear next, generally around a fortnight after infection, and persist longer. Later, if you encounter the same virus and the antibodies are still in your system, you are likely to have a level of protection.
Clicks advises that the antibody test be done after a full recovery from COVID-19 – as if you are tested too early, the antibodies may not be detectable.
If you have COVID-19 antibodies, does this mean you can’t get reinfected?
Clicks cautions that “currently, there is too little evidence to prove that the presence of antibodies will prevent reinfection with COVID-19”. The presence of antibodies also doesn’t necessarily mean you are not contagious, as this period may overlap with the contagious period for COVID-19 – or you may be an asymptomatic carrier.
The Scientists Collective reports that their current information on how long antibodies to coronavirus last in the blood only goes up to six weeks – after that, they may wane. This means they can’t yet say definitely if symptoms you had more than a month earlier were in fact due to COVID-19 – or that you will not be infected again.
While there’s much hope that having some antibodies to the coronavirus may help protect against contracting COVID-19 again, at least for a while, or from having a more severe case, the jury is still out on this, says authorities from Johns Hopkins Medicine to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (WHO). “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” says the WHO.
The bottom line? You still need to protect yourself and others by social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing or sanitizing your hands frequently.
What are the benefits of having a COVID-19 antibody test?
In addition to finding out whether you are positive for antibodies, you may be able to take part in research studies to find out more about how the coronavirus affects people’s health, and be able to donate plasma to help others seriously ill with COVID-19.
All test results should be recorded to contribute to the national database, and a positive test can also help reconstruct chains of transmission and identify hot spots, notes the Scientists Collective.
The COVID-19 rapid antibody test
is being rolled out at Clicks clinics countrywide,
and can be booked with a nurse online here.
Article, courtesy of Clicks
You’ve Earned It / YEI (https://youve-earned-it.co.za/),
the online retirement platform
for South African over-60s
Discounts, savings and benefits for baby boomers, seniors, pensioners and retirees
Informative and relevant articles geared at the senior market
Sign up for the FREE fortnightly
You’ve Earned It Newsletter HERE
and become a You’ve Earned It / YEI member