What kinds of testing are available for COVID19?
1. Viral Test: tells you if you have a current infection.
2. Antibody Test: May tell you if you have had a past infection.
An antibody test may not show if you have a current infection because it can take 1-3 weeks after infection for your body to make antibodies.
Having antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 might provide protection from getting the virus again. If it does, we don't know how much protection the antibodies provide or how long it would last.
If you test positive or negative for COVID-19 on a viral or an antibody test, you still should take preventive measures to protect yourself and others.
Click here to get pointers on how to interpret a COVID19 test result:
Test for Current Infection
Viral tests check samples from your respiratory system, such as a swab from the inside of your nose, to tell you if you currently have an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Some tests are point-of-care tests, meaning results might be available at the testing site in less than an hour. Other tests must be sent to a laboratory to analyze, a process that takes 1–2 days once received by the lab.
COVID-19 testing differs based on location. The FDA has authorized viral tests that allows you to collect either a nasal swab or a saliva sample at home. These samples need to be sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Test for Past Infection (Antibody Test)
Antibody tests check your blood by looking for antibodies, which might tell you if you had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
Except in instances in which viral testing is delayed, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current COVID-19 infection.
An antibody test might not show if you have a current COVID-19 infection because it can take 1–3 weeks after infection for your body to make antibodies.
Check out this video from the JAMA Network for an explanation of how antibody tests work.