Two Tests: COVID Vs. Antibody Testing


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – With summer right around the corner and states beginning to re-open, it’s easy to forget about Coronavirus. But health officials haven’t – and have now begun to focus on the asymptomatic spread of the disease.

Two different tests can now help track community COVID cases, and for many, it’s easy to confuse the antibody test with the actual COVID test. In reality, they’re very different. In fact, one tests to see if you have ever had the virus, while the other will tell you if you currently have it.

Members of the KREX team took both to get some answers and show you just how easy it is to be tested.

“The evidence that we have been given, the percentage of people, which is about 25, 45-percent of the totality of infected people, are likely without symptoms,” Dr. Anthoy Facui said on June 10th.

To help better track how the COVID-19 disease is passed from person to person, especially those who are asymptomatic, there are now two different tests on the market: the COVID test itself and the antibody test. These tests check for different things – the antibody test is a blood test that detects the immune response to the virus, while the COVID test, a nasal swab, will tell you if the virus is currently in your system.

But who should get tested for what? It depends on how you feel – those with symptoms, including cough, fever, shortness of breath, or a sore throat should be tested for the virus, in addition to those who have had close contact with a COVID case or work as a first responder or in healthcare.

The antibody test is for everyone else, and Mesa County Public Health can test up to 40 people per day. At their clinic, it takes just a few minutes to see if you have COVID antibodies – as our News Director John Kirby and Morning Anchor Russ Pappas discovered.

The results return in about 10 days and will give you a better idea of your exposure, as well as help healthcare workers develop a map of community spread.

And antibodies can also be a sign of hope for the future. Trials are underway in both the United States and China for treatment options based on antibodies.

The antibody test isn’t perfect – some patients can receive false positives from other coronaviruses, and an immune response can take up to 3 weeks to develop – if at all. For some patients, that never happens. But testing is still a great way to provide additional data to our public health department, and can give you a better idea of community spread.

The COVID test is free for all those who qualify to be tested, while the antibody test cost will depend on your insurance. For the COVID test, make an appointment by calling 970-683-2300.

For the antibody test, visit this website, and fill out this form for Mesa County Public Health.

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