You woke up one day unable to smell the cinnamon rolls baking, and realized that something was wrong. You’ve done your COVID-19 testing, found out that you were positive, endured the isolation process, and waited for your symptoms to pass and your contagious period to be over.
Now that you’ve returned to a more normal life, you may be considering getting a blood test for COVID-19 to know what your antibody level is. Or maybe you were sick before testing was widely available, and are curious if that sickness you had was actually COVID or just bad allergies.
Whatever your reason, getting an antibody test can sometimes generate more questions than answers, and you may be wondering about antibodies in your immune system. Let’s take a look at antibodies and answer questions about this immune system response.
Your body is an amazing mechanism. Once the presence of a virus is detected, your immune system leaps into action to make antibodies, a protein designed to fight off viruses. It can take some time for the presence of a virus to be detected, and it takes time for your immune system to manufacture the proteins. Your antibodies can develop in as few as a couple of days or it could potentially take weeks. It depends on each individual’s immune response and how their body functions.
Studies are still being conducted to understand how long antibodies stay in your body after you’ve had a case of COVID-19. One study by the National Institutes of Health found that 95% of people who recovered from COVID-19 had immune system memories of the virus up to eight months after infection.
In this study, they found that one month after symptom onset, 98% of participants had antibodies against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the mechanism used by the virus to invade healthy cells in your body. Like many other studies have shown, the number of antibodies present was widely varied between each individual person.
These studies and data are being collected, and as more information is gathered, scientists will be able to provide more information about the length of time that COVID-19 antibodies stay in your system.
There are a lot of questions about natural immunity to covid19, and scientists are still studying to understand the ins and outs of this process. According to the FDA, a positive antibody test – one that shows you have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 – doesn’t not necessarily mean you are immune or that you can’t infect other people. Because it’s unclear what are the exact mechanisms of covid immunity after infection, the CDC recommends continuing to take steps to protect yourself and others by following good public health practices even after you have recovered from COVID-19.
Yes, it is possible to be reinfected, but it remains rare according to current data. Studies are still being conducted and data is being gathered to determine the actual rates of reinfection and to understand what this means for your immunity. The CDC reports ongoing studies to learn:
There are certain situations where you may need to get tested for COVID-19 after you have had an infection and despite a positive antibody result. According to the CDC, if it has been more than 3 months since you have recovered and you’re exposed to a positive case, you may need to get retested. Likewise, if you develop new symptoms of COVID-19, your doctor may want you to get retested.
In addition, there are plenty of places that may require a negative COVID-19 test, like workplaces or schools. Talk with your doctor about this process if you have received a positive antibody test to understand how that impacts your testing.
If you are searching for reliable COVID-19 testing with a quick turnaround, look no further than BioCollections Worldwide. We are proud to be a trusted resource for hundreds of thousands of people through this global crisis, with over 280,000 tests administered since we first developed our test for SARS-CoV-2. Contact BioCollections Worldwide to schedule a test today, knowing that you are in experienced hands.