5 Questions About Testing

From CommonSpirit Health’s laboratory medicine experts

1.       If I have antibodies, does that mean I’m immune?

Not necessarily. It is not yet known whether the presence of antibodies means immunity to COVID-19. It also remains unclear how long antibodies will last in a person. Additional information about the significance of antibodies will be available as we learn more about COVID-19 and test accuracy improves.

2.       Is a “rapid” test better?

A “rapid” test is exactly that – rapid. Results are available in as few as 10-15 minutes as opposed to hours with non-rapid tests. Rapid testing is available for both molecular and antibody tests; however, all tests are not created equal. Studies have shown that while most tests are highly accurate, rapid tests are more likely to produce a false negative result. 

3.       What is the difference between molecular and antibody tests?

Molecular testing measures the presence of the virus in the body, and antibody testing measures the body’s immune response to the virus. At CommonSpirit Health, we support the use of molecular and rapid molecular tests for several reasons:

  •         In the early stages of COVID-19, antibodies are not present, so antibody tests are not effective for detection.
  •         A panel of infectious disease and laboratory medicine physicians across CommonSpirit have concluded that rapid antibody tests are more likely to produce a false positive result.
  •         Even if antibodies are detected, more research is needed to determine what level of protection they provide.

4.       How important is testing for the reopening of the state and the country?

Testing is one of the most important aspects for resuming hospital operations safely. It is imperative that communities have adequate access to testing materials and facilities in order to accurately measure virus infection rates. As CommonSpirit Health care sites begin safely and gradually resuming services, COVID-19 testing is mandatory for all patients undergoing elective surgical procedures. In many facilities, testing is available onsite. CommonSpirit Health continues to advocate for increased access to testing nationwide.

5.       How can I get tested?

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 and would like to get tested, contact your physician’s office for guidance. Your doctor can assess your symptoms and direct you to a local testing center. Additionally, CommonSpirit Health offers free virtual urgent care visits for anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

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