The COVID-19 pandemic has been going for about a year and a half now, so all of us have heard of mask mandates, lockdowns, vaccines, and rapid testing, but there’s another word that’s been on the airwaves too: antibodies. Everybody keeps talking about them and how they could be helpful for protecting us against the Delta variant, but what exactly are they? How do they protect us and how can we know if we have them?
What are antibodies and what do they do?
- Antibodies are proteins that your immune system creates to help you fight off infections, like little infection-fighting tanks. You develop new antibodies every time you get a cold, the flu, or even COVID because your immune system gets to read that infection’s DNA then create a specific ‘tank’ to fight exactly that infection.
- Antibodies provide protection against their specific infections for varying amounts of time after they’ve been created.
How can we get antibodies?
- By being exposed to a virus/infection OR by being vaccinated for that infection.
- It generally takes 1-3 weeks after an infection for antibodies to fully develop.
How do I know if I have antibodies?
- You can get an antibody test! At ProHealth, you’ll have your test results in 10 minutes and it only requires a finger prick. This will give you a positive or a negative result for COVID antibodies.
- Another antibody blood test is a blood draw that is sent off to the lab, similar to any other blood work test. The results are ready in a couple of days and will give you an in-depth look into your antibodies. This test is helpful if you are trying to determine when to get the vaccine after having COVID. If you have a low level of antibodies on the blood test, it is a good time to go ahead and proceed with the vaccine.
If I test positive for COVID antibodies, am I immune to COVID?
- Simply put, no. Not permanently anyway. The CDC doesn’t know how long the COVID antibodies last yet, so antibody testing shouldn’t be used to decide if you’re immune to COVID.
- False positives for COVID antibody tests do happen.
- You can test positive for COVID antibodies even if you never exhibited symptoms of COVID since some people have asymptomatic infections.
The CDC is currently testing the antibodies to see how long they remain effective in our bodies. Even if you are unvaccinated and do test positive for COVID antibodies, the vaccine is a good option to prevent the severity of a COVID-19 infection and provide more antibodies. The CDC does recommend waiting until 90 days after you’ve had COVID to be vaccinated to allow your immune system a chance to recuperate.
If you want to see if you have COVID antibodies (or need any other COVID testing done) ProHealth can help! ProHealth offers the COVID-19 Rapid Antibody Test, Rapid RT-PCR Test (for travel), and Rapid Antigen Test at many locations. Together we will keep Northwest Florida strong.