ATLANTA - If you’re pretty sure that virus that knocked you down a couple of months ago was this new coronavirus, but you want to know for sure, you’ll need to roll up your sleeve for an antibody test.
It's a blood test that looks for antibodies, or proteins in your blood, that signal your immune system has fought off a disease like COVID-19.
Antibody testing can tell you if you've been infected in the past.
It cannot detect a current infection, because it takes a few days for the body to develop antibodies to a virus.
So, to determine if you’re infected now, you will need a diagnostic test, which typically involves a nasal or throat swab.
The FDA is cracking down on antibody tests for the coronavirus. (FOX 5)
In Georgia, diagnostic testing done through the Georgia Department of Public Health is free, if you are symptomatic or live in a high-risk community like Dougherty County in southwest Georgia, which is grappling with a major coronavirus outbreak.
Diagnostic testing can only reveal if you are currently infected with the virus.
I will not pick up on a previous infection.
So, if either test comes back positive, does that mean you are immune to this new virus?
Maybe, or maybe not, experts say.
When we fight off a virus, like a respiratory virus, we usually develop some level of natural immunity to the virus.
Coronavirus diagnostic or "swab" tests have become more available within the last few weeks. (FOX 5)
Still, researchers caution, it is not clear if that immunity will go away with time or provide enough protection to keep us from getting re-infected down the road.
So, while you’ll get some answers from testing, you may still have questions.
Experts caution the reliability of antibody testing can vary.
Early on in the outbreak, more than 100 antibody tests came onto the American market, many of them without being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
This week, the FDA began requiring test manufacturers to submit data to the agency about the accuracy of their tests in order to receive emergency approval to use the tests.
The third type of test may soon offer rapid results.
Antigen tests use a nasal or throat swab to detect signs of viral infection.
This type of test is already being used by doctors to screen for strep throat.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently cautioned more research needs to be done into the reliability of antigen tests before they can be widely used to screen for COVID-19 infections.
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