If you believe you’ve had a COVID-19 infection but your antibodies were negative, or if you’ve had your vaccine and tested negative for antibodies (using the Roche quantitative antibody testing method), you may want to know if you have T-cells against COVID-19. The presence of T-cells against COVID-19 indicates that it was highly likely you have had COVID-19 as an infection or that you have developed T-cells as a result of your vaccination.
What are T-cells?
T cells are part of what produces an immune response. There are two types of T-cells that work either by helping to orchestrate immune responses and activate B cells to release antibodies or kill the host cells that have been infected with bacteria or a virus.
So what are antibodies?
An antibody is a protein formed and released from specific B cells in response to a signal from a helper T cell. Antibodies attach to antigens, proteins on the surface of pathogens. They can also inhibit movement or stop some viruses from forming essential proteins.
Should I have a T-cell or antibody test then?
Ideally, both! A Roche quantitative antibody test is helpful post-infection and post-virus. But antibody testing tells half the story and research suggests that antibody immunity to COVID-19 declines over time. Also, some people who have had a COVID-19 infection or vaccine do not produce detectable antibody levels at all. A T-cell test will help give a more complete picture of your immune response.
What does having a T-cell test add to what I learn from my antibody test?
The T-SPOT.COVID test assesses the cell-mediated immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Understanding cell-mediated immunity may help to better understand the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, especially in individuals who do not produce a detectable antibody response, or whose antibody responses have waned over time. The only way to understand the complete immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection is to test for both antibodies and T cells.
Is there a package for the Roche Quantitative and T-spot test in that case?
Yes – our package costs £245 when the tests are booked together. If you’ve had a Roche Quantitative test with us and would like to follow up with a T-spot test, we can extend this package to you also.
The T-SPOT.COVID test identified 51% more PCR Positive individuals than serology testing alone
The T-SPOT.COVID test had a higher positive agreement with PCR results than serology
The COVID-19 T-Cell test is a blood test that requires phlebotomy. Therefore you should come hydrated to make phlebotomy as easy as possible. You do not need to fast for this test.During the test
An HCA or nurse will take your blood and your sample will be sent to our local laboratory. Your result will be available in 3-5 days and shared with you via our patient management system, encrypted by your date of birth.
It is not yet known exactly when T cells can be detected after infection. However, research suggested T-cells can be detected at 7 – 14 days post-infection and 4 – 6 weeks post-vaccination.
Positive agreement has been shown in a recent study of T-SPOT.COVID test and PCR of 96.6 % (84/87) at <60 days after positive PCR result, and 83.3% (40/48) at >60 days after positive PCR result.