Fayette County health officials explain how COVID-19 antibody testing works


FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS)– Questions have come up about what the COVID-19 antibody test actually is, as the pandemic remains in full effect across the country. Health Officer with the Fayette County Health Department Anita Stewart said antibodies are a response from the immune system after an infection.

In general, a positive antibody test is presumed to mean a person has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, at some point in the past. It does not mean they are currently infected.

“If they number 1, develop antibodies and number 2, if those antibodies provide protection in the long term, whether that is 18 months, to 2 years to a life time for a COVID-19 infection,” Stewart said.

Which is why Stewart said there are still questions regarding people who test positive for COVID-19 and if their body naturally produce the antibodies. A positive result doesn’t exactly mean you’re in the clear either especially in states like West Virginia.

“Because we do have a low prevalence in the state and area and so if it’s positive you would have to go back and do a history and to see if they have had any exposure to COVID-19 and that would be done with us at local health departments to help determine some of those things,” Stewart said.

She said there are a few things to remember when going to get either the COVID-19 test or antibody test. For one, health officials are still unclear on how long antibodies sit in people’s systems or if it makes you immune to the virus.

“Remember if you’ve traveled or gone somewhere the incubation period, which means the amount of time that it can grow and be in your body can be up to 14 days,” Stewart said. “So you might not exhibit any symptoms until day 13 so just remember that even if you’ve had a negative test you could potentially still after an exposure turn positive after 14 days.”

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