WHAT ARE ANTIBODIES AND WHY YOU SHOULD BE TESTED
By Lisa Medlin DNP, APRN, FNP-C
There is an awful lot of talk about antibodies in the news these days, so I thought I would write about it and hopefully clear up some of the confusion. An antibody is simply a protein that the body makes in response to an infection. They are the result of the immune system fighting the bacteria or virus that is causing the infection. The antibody produced will be specific to the virus/bacteria and can provide immunity, should the person be exposed to that organism again. Antibodies are particularly important when there is a need to know if a person or group of people have been exposed to an infectious disease when there may be few symptoms, or if the symptoms mimic other, more common infectious diseases.
The CDC is monitoring COVID-19 as it moves across America and throughout the world. Monitoring occurs in two ways: 1) confirmed positive COVID-19 testing (which does not use antibodies), and 2) using a blood test that assesses antibodies to the virus. While antibody testing should NOT be used for diagnosis, it is useful in estimating what percentage of the population has been exposed and where the exposure occurred. This is especially important with COVID-19, due to its unpredictable behavior. While the disease is deadly in certain populations, there are many others who feel very few symptoms.
We do not currently know if the antibodies to COVID-19 will provide long-term (several years) or short-term immunity (a few months). However, as Americans re-enter the workforce and restart our economy, it is beneficial for individuals as well as employers to know if the person has any protection from the virus. It is also important for the CDC to monitor antibody testing to gain more information about how the virus works, how long the virus has been in America, and which areas may have acquired herd immunity, meaning 80% of population has been exposed.
We are now offering COVID-19 Antibody testing here at 45 Urgent Care. For more information, give us a call at 731-554-0571. No appointment needed, we take walk-ins.