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What is antibody testing and how can I be tested?

 

Antibody testing is different than diagnostic testing for COVID-19.  

Antibodies can be found in the blood and in other tissues days or weeks after being infected with a virus. This can be useful to understand how illness affects the population as a whole, but it cannot be used to diagnose individuals or predict whether you may be protected from a future COVID-19 infection. 

 

What we know:

  • The FDA has approved several antibody tests. There are also several tests on the market that have not been approved.
  • There are places in Michigan offering antibody testing, but there is no information about which test is being used, or if they may be using an unapproved test.
  • An antibody test cannot help your doctor decide how to treat you or if it safe to return to work.

What we don't know:

  • How good the current antibody tests are at detecting COVID-19 in individuals.
  • If detection of antibodies means you have had COVID-19, or if it will detect other coronaviruses (like the common cold) that you may have had in the past.
  • If detection of antibodies means you can still spread COVID-19.
  • If detection of antibodies means you are immune to COVID-19.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, like cough, fever and shortness of breath, you should contact your doctor and seek testing for COVID-19. Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 can ensure you get the right medical treatment, unlike antibody testing.

You can find antibody testing sites at Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest. If you choose to do so, please understand the limitations of antibody testing and continue to protect yourself regardless of the result.