BETHESDA, Md. — If you’re among those wondering if that sore throat you had a month ago was coronavirus, we have some good news.
All across the country, labs are ramping up their capacity for antibody testing.
The older nasal swab test will tell you if you have the virus right now, but it can still be tough to get one. The newer antibody test will tell you if you’ve had the virus before. They’re now widely available.
You can get the antibody test at many urgent cares and via telemedicine from PlushCare, a digital health platform that will connect you with a local doctor.
Quest Diagnostics announced this week it’s offering a direct-to-consumers antibody test – no prescription required.
LabCorp is offering the test with a referral in doctor’s offices and at all of it’s more than 2,000 patient service centers.
But if you’ve been sick, doctors say you need to wait until after you’ve recovered to get the antibody test.
Some studies have suggested as many as many as 50% of people with coronavirus have no symptoms.
"We've seen studies where we give a group of people flu, and only 50% become infected," said Dr. Matthew Memoli, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Even though every single one was given the virus."
The FDA has given emergency approval to eight antibody tests. One study found only three tests offered consistently reliable results. PlushCare and Quest say they're using an FDA-approved test from Abbott Laboratories.
And doctors warn that even a positive antibody test is not a free pass. You may still be vulnerable to the disease.
"So the tests that we have now on the market... don't tell you individually whether you have the neutralizing antibodies, whether you have the antibodies that can prevent you from getting an infection again," said CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus.
Most experts do think that if you’ve recovered from COVID-19 – especially a severe case – you should have some level of resistance. It’s just not clear how much – or for how long.
Experts say many insurance companies are covering the cost of antibody testing, but you should check with yours first
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