This post is from Positive Touch Medicine
Antibody testing is common in our modern world of medicine. Doctors & scientists use antibody testing to see if the immune system has reacted to an infection, this is called an “immune response.” Antibody testing is also used to determine if vaccines are still effective (aka – measure your titer level). Even food allergy tests and environmental allergy tests are assessing antibody responses.
First, let’s cover the basics of antibodies: Antibodies are proteins made by a part of the immune system called the adaptive immune system. Antibodies are specific and each antibody targets one specific thing, called an antigen. An antigen is something the immune system views as “foreign and dangerous” and thus wants to attack it. Yes, our immune system makes antibodies which act like well-trained attack dogs.
The difficulty with antibodies is understanding what their presence means. Just because you have antibodies to a specific virus, does NOT mean that you are immune. Take the human herpesvirus family. There are 9 types of viruses in this family, and you’ve probably heard of most of them. For a long time, it was thought that if you had chickenpox as a child, you could not get shingles as an adult, but we’ve found in more recent years, that this simply isn’t true. Another common example, mononucleosis (aka “mono”), a common viral infection caused by Cytomegalovirus or Epstein Barr virus, can infect people more than once. This is similar to other common viral infections like herpes. If the immune system is weak, mononucleosis and herpes simplex or herpes zoster viruses can take advantage and resurfaces.
Similarly, look at the common cold. How many times have you had a cold in your life? The common cold can be caused by many different viruses, but most commonly by the rhinovirus.
Simply put, you can get the same virus again the following year. It depends on the strength of your immune system.In March, the FDA announced that makers of Covid-19 diagnostic tests could sell their own tests as soon as each company was satisfied with their own test and notified the FDA, even though the FDA had not reviewed the data. The same was applied to antibody tests for what is considered to be an “emergency purpose.” Now, there are over 250 different antibody tests for sale.
However, to date, there are only 12 SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests that are FDA approved. However, even the former FDA commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlib warns of false positives in these approved tests. It is estimated that up to 50% of positive results are false positives!
So, if you pay for a test, you may be looking for peace of mind, but you may not get definitive results. You could repeat the test after 1-2 weeks since antibodies can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks to develop after infection. However, with antibody testing alone, there is no guarantee currently, that a positive result is a true positive.
There is a bright side to this. With more companies creating tests that will help track this virus, an accurate test may be developed sooner rather than later. Antibody testing is a forward thinking idea, it will no doubt be beneficial for the future, but it is creating a false sense of security for many.
At Positive Touch Medicine, we understand that most people are concerned about SARS-CoV-2 and an interest in antibody testing has increased over the last week. However, many offices offering antibody testing, are doing so at a substantial cost for tests that are not FDA approved, and have a high rate of false positives. If you are financially secure, this may not be a concern for you, but for those who are out of work or have a reduced income, this is something to consider. Is it more worthwhile to spend $150 on an antibody test or to get vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D supplements for a few months (all of which are proven to reduce severity of illness in most viral illnesses, and have supportive research with Covid-19)?
We are not discouraging people from getting a test, but we want to make sure you understand your results.
If you do get an antibody test, a negative report is likely true (based on current research), this means you do not have antibodies. So, you’ll want to continue immune support therapies.
If you get the test and your results are positive, well, there is upwards of a 50% change that these results are false, so what then? You should continue immune supportive therapies!
The fear of SARS-CoV-2 is natural, but being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle is the best way we can care for our immune systems. When a test is developed with higher accuracy, we plan to offer that service to the community.