Why antibody results can be confusing when testing for COVID-19

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV)- There are different ways to get tested for COVID-19, but some are more accurate than others. As anti-body testing grows in popularity health proffesionals want to clear up confusion on what the results actually mean.

A machine at St. Joseph’s hospital can produce anti-body results in just 15 minutes, but what exactly does that mean?

“Anti-body testing is testing for an infection that has occurred or still occuring,” said Lab Director, Olin Thomas, “and your body is creating an immune response to it.”

Thomas says a person that tests positive for anitbodies may think theyre immuned to the virus, but that’s not neccesarily the case.

“We are still too early on to know what that gives us,” said Thomas. “We dont if we can be reinfected, we don’t know, but our mentality as humans is we want to have some kind comfort and some sense of relief.”

Thomas says for now, people looking for a peace of mind should opt for molecular testing. This process is where they use a nasal swab. Molecular testing can detect if the virus is present in your body. Experts say it produces the most accurate results

Over the past week, St. Joseph’s/Candler hospitals are doing at least 120 COVID-19 tests a day.

“More people are being tested, there’s backlogs again so most places are seeing almost two times the volumes they can handle a day,” said Thomas.

Thomas says it’s important to remember hospitals are not testing facilities for the general public. He says their testing is reserved for critically sick patients and staff members.

“I want to make sure people know that no we are not hoarding tests we burn through our tests regularly,” said Thomas, “but, I want to make sure they know that we still have testing capabilities to be able to take care of our patients and our staff.”

Anti-body testing can not be done without a doctor’s orders. Thomas says the method is not usually used for respiratory infections like COVID-19.

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