What we know about COVID-19 antibodies so far
COVID-19 threw the world into severe disarray, there’s no denying it. Many months have passed since the first case in the UK and there is still so much to learn about the infection. But new research has shed more light on COVID-19 antibodies and we thought it would be helpful to distil some of that information for you.
What are COVID-19 antibodies and will I definitely have antibodies if I’ve had COVID-19?
Infections trigger a response from our immune system – antibodies are proteins that are developed in order to help the body fight the infection.
If you had COVID-19, you might have developed these antibodies at some point.
Not everybody develops IgG (long-term) antibodies however. The presence of antibodies correlates with the severity of the illness primarily. We have found that people who had mild COVID-19 symptoms often test negative for IgG antibodies – this is probably because some people fight off the virus with their primary defence system and do not need to generate IgG antibodies or the quantity generated is lower than detection thresholds.
Can I test for antibodies after my COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, you can. We’ve written a recent post about this here.
What does research tell us about COVID-19 antibodies post infection?
- We know that we shed the antibodies over time. A large Spanish study of 60,000 people showed that approximately 15% of people shed their antibodies within 2 months while antibodies decline over time in everyone else.
- Recent study done by the Imperial College London suggests that the antibody triggered by COVID-19 wanes over time.
- Even though the antibody response might decrease over time, research suggests that the severity of a future COVID-19 infection may be significantly reduced.
What COVID-19 antibody tests are available?
We have three options for testing with comparable reliable accuracy:
Surescreen rapid antibody test cassette – this is a finger-prick test with an instant result.
Abbott antibody test – this a full blood draw test that is sent to our laboratory with results in 24 hours.
Roche “vaccine antibody test” – this is a full blood draw test that also provides a quantitative result. Ie. It tells you how many antibodies you have. This is suitable for testing after vaccination.