Just the other day, I visited a Corona Testing Lab in Chinatown Houston to get myself tested. A patient sitting near me used the phrase ‘the antibody test’ which got me all confused.
While I have heard this phrase before, it struck me as odd. So, I ended up asking the nurse about it. I questioned, “Are the COVID-19 and the COVID-19 antibody test the same?”. She nodded her head, signaling a ‘No’.
I went home and researched this difference. After reading many journals and articles on it, I have gathered some information for you. I will be covering the difference between these two tests in detail.
What Exactly is the Coronavirus Antibody Test?
The COVID-19 test is a screening that checks the strength of your immune system. This strength is checked against the COVID-19 virus.
It is different from other antibody tests. That’s because it checks for the antibodies that fight the coronavirus.
When you receive a vaccine for a specific virus, antibodies run within your bodies. These antibodies protect you against the relevant virus.
Let’s suppose you received a shot of the coronavirus vaccine. The antibodies from the virus will protect you when the virus attacks your body.
Factoid: An antibody test is not to check the presence of a virus inside your body. Instead, it tests your immune system. It also ensures whether your system has come in contact with the virus. When your body comes in contact with a virus, your immune system produces antibodies. These antibodies try to protect your organs from getting affected. The presence of these antibodies is what the antibody detects.
Why is an Antibody Test Needed? Is It Mandatory for the People Who Have Recovered?
Antibody tests are not compulsory for everyone who has the virus. However, it can help the authorities understand the commonality of the virus.
It is pretty significant for doctors, researchers, and medical experts. They use antibody tests to understand why a virus is common. It helps them understand the degree to which a person can become sick when he comes in contact with a virus.
For example, I recently visited the Corona Testing Lab in Chinatown, Houston. The nurse said that the antibody test doesn’t just help a person to understand his immune system. Instead, it also helps the researchers. How? Researchers can track the commonality among the people that are immune to the virus.
All of this assists the research process for making better vaccines to treat the virus.
This is why, if you contracted the coronavirus at some point, then getting an antibody test can be helpful. Not only for you but the medical researchers that require this data.
How Is an Antibody Test Carried?
The information I will provide in this section is researched. However, I would like to inform you all that I also witnessed another person take this test. This happened when I visited the Corona Testing Lab in Chinatown, Houston.
A drop of blood will be taken from you, either by pricking you or through an injection.
This blood sample will later be tested for two types of antibodies. These are:
- IgG Antibodies
- IgM Antibodies
Medical experts check for these antibodies in your body during the antibody test. That’s because the IgG antibodies appear in the host body in the initial period of the infection. Whereas, IgM tends to show in your blood later.
What is the Difference Between a COVID-19 and COVID-19 Antibody Test?
One difference between these two tests is that a COVID-19 test only tells you about an active virus.
An antibody test will provide you with two pieces of information:
- Whether you had the virus in your body at some point or not?
- Did your body produce antibodies to fight the virus or not?
In simpler words, coronavirus tests will help you diagnose the COVID-19 virus.
It must be noted that there are two different coronavirus tests. Let’s walk you through, briefly:
COVID-19 Swab Test
A medical professional takes a small sample of your saliva. And, the traces of Coronavirus are present in it to show whether you are positive or negative for the virus.
A positive test means that the medical expert found traces of the virus in your saliva. However, if the test is negative, it is good news because that means you don’t have the virus.
Note: A doctor at Corona Testing Laboratory in Houston stated that the swab test is only 97% accurate. So, the one who tests must sanitize and keep a social distance from the people around him.
An antibody test is something many don’t usually opt for. The reason behind it is that it detects the presence of the virus in the past.
However, it will not help you if you want to know whether you currently have the virus active in your body.
Recommendation: Do you want to know whether you have the COVID-19 virus or not? Then always go for the swab test.
Word of Advice:
In the case of COVID-19 symptoms, you should always go for a Coronavirus swab test. The city of Houston and Harris County offers these tests free.
If you want to test by a private hospital or medical facility in Houston, then you will most likely have to pay.
Coronavirus testing laboratory in Houston is offering two types of testing facilities. These are:
- Walk-up tests are being provided by hospitals, urgent care centers, and CVS pharmacies.
- Drive-thru tests are very frequent as not everyone can afford to visit a medical center to get tested.
You can see which one suits your needs and then go for that one.
I hope that the information that I provided so far has covered all your possible questions.