Should I get a Covid-19 antibody test?
October 26, 2020
Should I get a Covid-19 antibody test?
Covid-19 antibody testing has been a national talking point for months, but why should you get a test, and how do you get one?
There are various reasons to think about getting a Covid-19 antibody test, including:
If you suspect you’ve had Covid-19
If you don’t fall into the small category of healthcare professionals eligible for a free test
If you are eligible for a free test but don’t want to wait a few weeks to have it
If you suspect you’ve had Covid-19 and would like to donate convalescent plasma
If you are invited to take part in an antibody research program
To contribute to research tracking the prevalence of the virus in the population
If you’ve had a positive PCR test more than 14 days ago and want to see if it was true positive and that you’ve developed antibodies
Why do I have to pay for a Covid-19 antibody test?
While you can get a PCR(swab) test to see if you currently have Covid-19 for free from the NHS (depending on certain criteria), antibody testing is not free to most people, unless you fall under specific, limited criteria.
Current NHS guidance states that free antibody tests are only available for certain people who work in primary care, social care or education.
Clinicians can request antibody tests for patients in hospital and social care settings, and free tests are also available for anyone who is being recruited for a trial, or who has had a positive PCR test and been approached to donate convalescent plasma.
What is the convalescent plasma trial?
Plasma is a straw coloured liquid in our blood that consists of white blood cells, platelets, multiple clotting factors, and proteins called antibodies. These antibodies are produced for a number of reasons, one of which is following an infection with a virus. Their presence is protective in most cases, should you become reinfected with the same virus. The antibody-rich plasma of someone who has recovered from Covid-19 can be collected and is currently in trial use for patients with an acute Covid-19 infection.
The NHS Blood and Transplant Service (NHSBT) is using this plasma for transfusion to Covid-19 patients whose immune systems are struggling to develop their own antibodies in two clinical trials: REMAP-CAP and RECOVERY.
REMAP-CAP is an international trial investigating treatments for people with Covid-19 who have been in intensive care for less than 48 hours. It is an adaptive trial which means patients can receive different treatments over time.
Oxford University’s RECOVERY trial aims to compare different treatments that may be useful for people with Covid-19 who are in hospital, but not in intensive care.
If you have tested positive for Covid-19 or had clear symptoms you can register your interest in becoming a plasma donor here.
Contribute to research data
Antibody testing can also contribute to the Government’s efforts to track the prevalence of Covid-19 in the wider population.
For example, this summer researchers at Imperial College sent 100,000 volunteers at-home antibody tests kits in order to estimate what immunity levels were like in the community.
The results showed that 3.4 million people in England – 6% of the population – had already been infected by Covid-19 by 13 July 2020.
Private Covid-19 antibody tests
If you don’t qualify for a free test and you haven’t been invited to take part in a trial, you can still check your Covid-19 antibody status by getting a private test.
The only Covid-19 antibody testing method currently approved by the Government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is for a trained healthcare professional to take a blood sample from a patient – also called a venous blood test. The sample is then sent away for analysis to test for the presence of antibodies.
What results will I get?
At Melio, we use the Siemens antibody test which studies have shown to be the most accurate test available. When you take our test, you will get a simple ‘positive’, ‘negative’ or ‘void’ result.
If you get a positive result from your Covid-19 antibody test it means it did detect Covid-19 antibodies in your blood. This means you have had the Covid-19 coronavirus, even if you don’t remember having any symptoms or feeling unwell.
A negative result means the test did not detect Covid-19 coronavirus antibodies in your blood. This means your immune system has not mounted an antibody response to Covid-19, though it does not mean that you haven’t been infected with Covid-19, just that you don’t have antibodies against the virus.
See here: What is an antibody test?
Some Covid-19 antibody tests attempt to show the levels of two types of antibodies called IgM and IgG. IgM antibodies are made by the body in the early stages of infection, and can last up to a month. IgG antibodies are produced later – after around 21 days – and could last for months, possibly years. If your test results show either or both of these it means the result is positive. If neither of these antibodies are present, the result is negative.
The Siemens test we use at Melio gives a simple positive/negative/void result. Studies have shown it to be the most accurate.
Ready to check your Covid-19 antibody status?
If you think you have had Covid-19 would like to know if you have antibodies, you can book a fast and accurate antibody test at one of our growing number of convenient locations today.
Order and pay for your test online, book an appointment at a time and place that suits you, and receive the results directly to your mobile within 24-48 hours. One of our in-house doctors will check your results and prepare a personal medical report which includes any further advice and signposting you may need.
You can book your Covid-19 antibody test click here: Covid-19 antibody test, or use the chat button to talk to one of our specially trained advisors for more information.