There has been a lot in the public media about antibody testing. Unfortunately, this is a “lot of sizzle and very little steak”.
Currently, antibody testing for COVID has little known significance or practical application. Not enough is known. We want to bring you up to date on the known science to help you deal with misunderstanding propagated by the uninformed.
In a normal healthy individual who has contracted COVID, the immune system recognizes the viral molecules as “non-self” and starts making antibodies against them even before you get sick from it. These antibodies become detectable at about the second week of the illness. The patient is still contagious or at least disseminating viruses into the environment at this time. Hence, finding antibodies in the blood DOES NOT tell you you can’t get anyone else sick. It only indicates your body is functioning normally.
We DON’T know if the development of antibodies protects you from re-infection. We don’t know when you stop putting out viruses so that you are no longer contagious. We don’t know how high the antibody level has to be to make you immune and we don’t know if this is durable, like chickenpox or polio, or if it is short term, like influenza. The use of pooled antibodies obtained from recovered COVID patients to treat the critically ill is experimental and still fraught with all sorts of nagging questions.
The University of Nebraska has recently announced a study of this using Firemen as their subject group. We applaud their use of scientific study to answer these important questions if their study is designed to do this. Until we know these answers, we recommend you consider the antibody question an interesting one but don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is useful.
Our understanding of this disease is still evolving rapidly, so stay tuned…..