Why Would I Want To Be Tested For COVID-19 Antibodies?

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: November 12, 2020

There has been a lot of discussion lately around antibodies concerning COVID-19. Survivors wonder if the presence of antibodies means they are immune, how long the immunity lasts, and if it means they can help others fight COVID-19.

Infection from any virus initiates the immune system to create antibodies to protect against future attacks. Immunity can last anywhere from a few weeks to a lifetime. Researchers are still learning about COVID-19 antibodies, including how long they last and what level of immunity they may provide.

A positive COVID-19 antibody test indicates that your body has produced antibodies which fight the virus that causes COVID-19. The antibodies may protect you from getting infected from the virus again, though researchers are still conducting tests to understand how long this protection may last. Alternatively, a negative antibody test means you have never been infected, or that you may have a current infection (since antibodies take 1-3 weeks to be produced).

Antibody testing is an important complement to active infection testing because timing is key. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, getting an active infection test early (i.e. just a few days after exposure) or late (i.e. weeks after exposure) can, at times, produce a negative result. You may, then, believe you never had the virus when in fact, you did. Antibody testing is an important step to take if you want to reliably understand your past history with the virus.

Another reason to consider antibody testing is to help others who may be more vulnerable than yourself. Many COVID-19 survivors are hoping to share their antibodies through the donation of convalescent plasma. The theory around this is that because plasma from a COVID-19 survivor is filled with antibodies against the virus, when given to someone fighting the virus, it could boost their immune systems and help them recover. Many studies about convalescent plasma are underway.

Donating plasma is a treatment that has been around for years, but there is more to the process than a simple blood donation. Donors need to go through a lengthy safety check to ensure they don’t have an infectious disease such as HIV or hepatitis. Then, once a donor is cleared, their blood is removed by a machine that separates the plasma and the rest of the blood.

Even people who have recovered from COVID-19 should follow the recommended guidelines and take steps to protect themselves, including wearing masks, frequently washing hands, and practicing social distancing.

If you think you may have been infected with COVID-19 in the past, Kroger Health is now offering affordable and convenient antibody testing at pharmacy locations across the country. Visit https://www.kroger.com/health/pharmacy/covid-care to learn more.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.