The CDC estimates that as many as 25% of all actively infected COVID-19 patients, in the general population, may be asymptomatic. In the USS Teddy Roosevelt Naval Carrier COVID-19 case, 50% of the infected sailors were asymptomatic. That means that just because an employee is asymptomatic of the typical COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, there is no way to assure he or she is not infected without taking an antigen test. Conversely, unless an employer tests all employees with an antibody test, there is no way to take advantage of the protection employees may have with COVID-19 antibodies.
Seeking to aid employers, employees, and authorities in that process, Antigen Testing (Nose Swab PCR) and Antibody Testing (Blood Test) are being used. Both tests, the PCR and the antibody tests are necessary. And importantly, while many clinics rushed to offer Rapid Antibody tests, many of these tests were, unfortunately, found to be inaccurate and misleading by the FDA. So now new and reliable test have been emerging that can offer high-quality data for both tests.
These two COVID-19 tests, Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and antibody serological testing, serve different yet complementary needs. PCR tests directly measure the presence of the virus. In this technique, technicians extract a specimen from the nasal cavity with a nasopharyngeal swab. The sample is express delivered to an approved laboratory where RNA components unique to SARS-CoV-2 are extracted, multiplied, and measured. A Positive PCR test means the patient has an active COVID-19 infection. While a PCR test can confirm a patient is not infected, it cannot rule out the patient was previously infected and may have antibodies against future COVID-19 outbreaks. Here is where antibody tests are useful.
In antibody serological tests, technicians draw a small sample of blood. That specimen is express delivered to an approved lab where the presence of two antibodies, IgM and IgG, are tested for. IgM appears within the first 1-2 weeks of infection and then disappears. In contrast, the IgG antibody appears after about two weeks after a SAR-CoV-2onset starts and remains in a patient’s blood for years.
A positive antibody test means that the patient was infected with COVID-19 in the past and that their immune system developed antibodies to try to fight it off. It can identify people who had an infection in the past, even if they had no symptoms of the illness. It may be able to help determine who has some level of immunity to COVID-19.
By offering both tests, we in Cohortias believe that employers can have some peace of mind. Organization can hopefully confirm what employees can return to work if they have the antibodies that may protect you against future COVID-19 outbreaks. If you are an employer, the antibody test can help you plan best how and where your staff is placed.