Oct 15, 2020 7:26 PM

COVID Corner - by Crystal Malchose, PIO Pottawatomie County

Posted Oct 15, 2020 7:26 PM

This is an informational feature supported by the Pottawatomie County Commission to assist in providing educational information regarding the COVID-19 virus to citizens.

Viral Testing vs Antibody Testing

First, remember that no test is ever perfect. False positives and false negatives are possible, as well as results that are “inconclusive”. Secondary testing may be required for a more definitive result.

Q: What is the difference between Viral Testing and Antibody Testing?

A: Viral testing is intended to identify if a person is currently infected with the virus. Antibody testing determines if the person had the virus in the past.

Q: What do the Viral test results mean, and what should I do based on those results?

A: If you have a positive viral test result, it means you most likely have COVID-19, and are contagious. Stay home and follow isolation/quarantine guidelines provided by your healthcare provider or local health department. If the results are negative, you most likely do not have COVID, but should still continue monitoring symptoms and seek medical advice if your symptoms do not improve.

Q: What do the Antibody test results mean, and what should I know about the results?

A: A positive antibody test means you likely had COVID-19 in the past. You may be protected from re-infection (developed an immunity to COVID-19), but that is not known at this time. You should still follow mitigation protocols. A negative antibody test means you have not yet had, nor developed antibodies for COVID019, you are still at risk.

Q: What if I have both tests done, what do the combined results mean?

A: If both the viral and antibody tests result positive, treat it the same as the viral test being positive.

If the viral test is positive and the antibody test is negative, you most likely have the virus currently, but have not developed antibodies for it. Follow guidelines to stay home and isolate/quarantine.

If the viral test is negative and the antibody test is positive, you have likely had COVID-19 in the past, and have now recovered from it. Continue to take steps to protect yourself from possible re-infection.

If both tests are negative it is most likely you do not have, and have never had a COVID-19 infection. You are still susceptible and should take proactive steps (masks, hand washing, physical distancing) to protect yourself and others.