We are now able to offer a blood test to those aged 16 years and over to see if you have antibodies for the Covid-19 infection with the National Virus Reference lab at a national center of excellence.
The test detects IgG antibodies produced by the immune system as a response to the infection. A positive test result with the SARS-CoV-2 IgG assay indicates that antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 were detected, and the individual has potentially been exposed to COVID-19. You need to be 2 weeks post any Covid-19 symptoms.
When should you have a coronavirus antibody test?
The antibody test is best done 14-21 days after your first symptom(s). The antibody test is both sensitive and specific to the IgG antibody of COVID-19. A positive test result indicates you have had the virus. However, it is not yet known whether this grants any immunity to the virus. This means you may be able to get the virus more than once. A negative test result completed in the correct time frame would suggest you have not previously suffered from COVID-19 and therefore may develop the infection if exposed at a later date.
How does the COVID-19 antibody test work?
Antibody testing is done by having a blood sample taken in the clinic by a doctor or nurse, it is then sent to our laboratory NVRL UCD partner for analysis. Previous testing kits have claimed to give you instant results (based on IgM and IgG antibodies), however, there are questions about the accuracy of these tests. Therefore, we recommend using a lab-based test. Lab-based tests guarantee that results are analyzed in a controlled, sterile environment with minimum risk of contamination.
How reliable is the coronavirus antibody test?
Finding a reliable and safe test for our patients has been a priority for us. The coronavirus antibody test is 99% accurate at the NVRL Ireland and is approved for use by the HSE. It complies with EU safety rules.
The test looks for specific IgG antibodies, which appear during an established immune reaction, rather than IgM antibodies which are triggered by an acute immune response and are therefore less reliable. Antibody testing is a key pillar of the Irish Government Strategy in boosting overall testing capacity for coronavirus. It is an important part of monitoring the spread of coronavirus. It allows an understanding of those who have recovered from the virus and is a key way to allow businesses to return to some element of normality until a vaccination is ready.
- The presence of antibodies does not necessarily mean that the individual is protected against future attacks of Covid-19.
- Please note, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose someone as being currently sick with COVID-19. To check for a current infection, you need a viral test that checks respiratory samples, such as a swab from inside your nose.