Do I have the coronavirus? Or did I have it earlier this year? And maybe most important of all, am I now IMMUNE to it as a result?
They’re the questions running through all of our minds right now.
And until recently, it was almost impossible to get those answers. Coronavirus tests were hard to come by, even for people showing ALL the symptoms of infection.
But now we’re entering a new stage. It’s the TESTING and TRACKING phase.
Because to start to open the country back up… to get everyone back out and about… and return to SOME degree of normalcy…we NEED these answers.
And now there may finally be some ways to get them. In some cases, even from the comfort of your own home.
Understanding the two types of coronavirus tests
There are two different types of coronavirus tests available.
1. Infection tests:
These are supposed to tell us who is sick RIGHT NOW.
Infection tests are usually nasal swabs. And I’m not going to lie to you, they’re pretty uncomfortable. The tech taking your test passes an extra-long swab through your nose and into the back of your throat.
But the few moments of discomfort can provide you with the critical answers you need.
If you’re sick, knowing that you are infected with COVID-19 means knowing you’ll need more attention and care. Plus, a positive test allows you to take steps to protect those you come into contact with. While learning it’s NOT coronavirus could take a massive burden off your mind.
2. Antibody tests:
These are most often finger-prick tests. They’re supposed to show who has already had the virus and now has antibodies against the disease.
If you’ve been sick over the past couple of months, finding out you’ve had a visit by the COVID-19 virus could eventually help smooth your ability to get back out into society again.
In theory, if you have those antibodies, you won’t get sick again with the virus… at least right away… and can’t pass the infection onto others.
But experts warn we still have a lot to learn about COVID-19. So we can’t say with 100 percent certainty yet that any immunities you get from antibodies are permanent or even long-lasting.
Researchers are working hard to figure that out. But antibody testing can help us GET that answer, so they are still valuable either way.
Unfortunately, we’re now finding out that because of the rush to make these tests available, some of them may not be very accurate. So, as with most things coronavirus related, what we know about antibodies and antibody testing is changing every day. But I’ll be sure to update you here in Healthier Talk as more information becomes available.
How to get tested for coronavirus
If you’re sick and suspect you may have the coronavirus, you definitely want the INFECTION test. But don’t just go looking for coronavirus tests on your own. Con artists are selling fake “test kits” online. So instead, call your doctor ASAP and follow his instructions.
He may want you to go to a hospital or clinic to get tested. Or, depending on your condition, he may opt to send you one of the newly approved at-home tests. Fortunately, these new kits use swabs that don’t go so deeply into the nose.
But if you think you WERE sick and have recovered, getting a test can be a little tougher at the moment. Many doctors and hospitals are still too busy dealing with folks battling the virus right now to do antibody testing.
Check with your healthcare provider to see if they are available. If not you’ll need to keep an eye on your hometown news or check in with local hospitals or clinics periodically to find out when they start to offer “community antibody testing.”
If your state’s governor does periodic briefings, tuning in to those is a great way to get accurate, current information on testing.
In many cases, antibody testing is a drive-through operation. Typically, you get an appointment. Then you drive up and they take a small blood sample and send you on your way. But keep in mind a negative antibody test does not mean you don’t have the virus right now, or that you won’t get it.
There’s also talk about at-home antibody tests coming soon. But again, it’s best to avoid any testing kits you see online. As with the fake infection tests, hucksters are selling bogus antibody tests, too.
Instead, get a recommendation from your doctor, healthcare provider, insurer, or a local trusted source such as your mayor or governor’s office.
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