COVID 19 Testing – What You Need to Know

Covid 19 Testing

What are the tests that are currently available to test for COVID 19?

  1. PCR Testing (nasal swab) – determines if someone has the virus in their body at the time of testing.
  2. Antibody testing (blood test) – a new type of test that measures whether someone has had or been exposed to COVID 19 virus in the past. This is done by looking for antibodies in the blood

When should I get a PCR test?

Testing is most helpful foe people that have symptoms consistent with COVID 19.  Therefore, people with COVID symptoms are prioritized for testing.

Is PCR testing 100% accurate?

  1. A positve test indicates that the virus is present in the body but a negative test can occur prior to detection of the virus and does not excluse possible infection.

What does antibody testing tell us?

Antibody testing ONLY confirms you had contact with a sick person or were sick yourself with COVID 19 greater than 2 weeks ago.

Are there any limitations to the antibody test?

YES, there are limitations.  This test does NOT:

Determine is you are currently sick with COVID 19

Stop you from spreading COVID 19 to others

Replace the need for safety measures like social distancing, cough and hand hygiene, and keeping away from those who are vulnerable to the disease

Protect you from getting infected or sick in the future

What does it mean if I test antibody positive?

You were likely exposed, or infected with, the COVID 19 virus over two weeks ago. It is unknown if you have protection from future infection (immunity).

What does it mean if I test antibody negative?

If no antibodies are detected in the blood, it is unknown if you have been exposed to the virus or are currently infected with the virus.

Is antibody testing 100% accurate?

  1. Antibody testing is new, rapidly evolving and not yet fully understood. There have not yet been enough studies to show its accuracy. Both false positives and false negatives can occur, which is the reason more clinical studies are being done.

Is antibody testing covered by insurance?

It is not clear that insurance or Medicare/Medicaid will pay for this testing and you may be liable for payment.

*This document is for informational purposes, is subject to change as more information becomes available, and it not intended to replace instructions from your healthcare provider. Please discuss any questions or concerns regarding your health with your healthcare team. (Last updated: 5/4/2020)

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