Antibody tests check your blood by looking for antibodies, which might tell you if you have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
What are antibodies?
Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections and can provide protection against getting that disease again (immunity). Antibodies are disease specific. For example, measles antibodies will protect you from getting measles if you are exposed to it again, but they will not protect you from getting mumps if you are exposed to mumps.
If I have antibodies, does that protect me from getting infected again?
We do not know yet if people who recover from COVID-19 can get infected again. Scientists are working to understand this.
What does it mean if my antibody test is positive?
A positive antibody test result means you have been exposed to coronavirus.
It could be that you were previously exposed to the virus or you may have a current infection. The only way to know if you have a current infection is to have the COVID-19 viral test.
You might test positive for antibodies even if you have never had symptoms of COVID-19. This can happen if you had an infection and are asymptomatic.
Having antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 might provide protection from getting infected with the virus again. If it does, we do not know how much protection the antibodies might provide or how long this protection might last.
What does it mean if my antibody test is negative?
A negative antibody test result means you have not been exposed to or infected with coronavirus.
A negative antibody test, for the most part, means you have not had or do not currently have COVID-19. There are a few people who are very early on in the incubation period who may have not yet developed antibodies. The test can detect 99 percent of the people who have not been exposed using the antibody test.
If you have symptoms or develop symptoms after the antibody test, you need another type of test called a COVID-19 viral test. This test uses respiratory samples, such as a swab from the inside of your nose, to find out whether you have COVID-19.
Will everyone who gets infected develop antibodies?
99 percent of those who have been infected with coronavirus will develop antibodies.
Does everyone who has had COVID-19 develop antibodies?
This is different for everyone. For the most part, everyone who has been infected will develop antibodies. It typically takes 1-3 weeks after infection for your body to make antibodies. Some people might take even longer to develop antibodies and some people who are infected might not ever develop antibodies.
How can I be tested for antibodies?
Galveston County and UTMB have partnered to offer free COVID-19 antibody testing for Galveston County residents. Call 832.632.6731 for an appointment.
A government-issued ID is required to show proof of residence. CARES Act requires insurance companies to pay for COVID-19 testing. If you have insurance, it will be charged with no out-of-pocket cost. Tests for those with no insurance of a different circumstance will be paid for through federal CARES Act funding.
Additional testing sites can be found at www.gchd.org/testing.
Should I get the antibody or COVID-19 viral test?
For those who are asymptomatic and want to know if they have been exposed, the antibody test will tell you if you have or have not been exposed to coronavirus.
If your antibody test comes back positive, you will be asked to go ahead and take the COVID-19 viral test to see if you are currently infected.
If you’re symptomatic – fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea – please get the COVID-19 viral test. It is much more likely that you currently have an infection and you may in that early window when you have not developed antibodies.
MAILING ADDRESS: Galveston County Office of Emergency Management
1353 FM 646 Rd West
Dickinson, TX 77539