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What is antibody testing?

Wondering if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19? Antibody testing could help you find out.

Coronavirus antibody testing is for people who want to see if they may have had the virus or been exposed to it in the past. This simple procedure is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnostic test (nasal swab), which tells you if you currently have COVID-19.

What is an antibody?

An antibody is a protein made by our bodies in response to an infection. They help fight infections, and they’re also produced when we get routine vaccinations. 

Testing positive for coronavirus antibodies means that you have been exposed to the virus whether you have had symptoms or not.  It doesn’t mean you’re immune to the virus. Science doesn’t have the ability right now to say whether people with antibodies are immune to COVID-19. 

However, antibody data helps doctors and researchers understand who has likely been exposed. It can also provide important information about whether antibodies protect us from getting the virus again. 

Antibody testing is unnecessary for people who have already tested positive for COVID-19 via nasal swab.

What does antibody testing involve?

The coronavirus antibody test is a venous blood draw, similar to common tests like cholesterol screening.

It’s possible for test results to change over time. It takes up to 6 weeks for our bodies to learn how to make this antibody, so if you tested your blood early in that process, your initial results could be negative.

Experts don’t know how long the positive antibodies will stay, but similar antibodies typically remain in the body for years. 

How can I get tested?

Piedmont offers COVID-19 antibody testing consult visits through primary care practices, Piedmont QuickCare at Walgreens locations, and Piedmont Urgent Care clinics. These tests are safe and easy, so start by booking your visit now.

Do not schedule antibody testing if you’re currently sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past two weeks. A nasal swab test to test for the virus itself may be more appropriate for those circumstances. If you have symptoms, you should schedule a virtual visit with a Piedmont Urgent Care provider at piedmont.org/urgentcare to be scheduled for testing with the nasal swab test.

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