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Antibodies are tiny substances detected in the blood which form an important part of the body's response to infection. The body creates specific antibodies to a disease after it has suffered that disease or been vaccinated against it. These antibodies go on to assist in protecting against future infection with that disease.
At The Hove Practice, we offer a suite of COVID-19 antibody tests that can help determine whether a person has previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to Coronovirus Disease (COVID-19) or has generated a response to the viruses "Spike protein" via, for example, a COVID-19 vaccination. They can not be used to diagnose a current infection.
These can be rather confusing and need to be interpreted with caution. We do not yet know, for example, how long antibodies remain detectable in the blood after infection or vaccination, nor do we know what level of antibodies provide protection against future COVID-19 infection (or whether they provide any at all). If you were to wait too long to test for antibodies after vaccination or infection, they may become undetectable, similarly if you test too soon, they may not yet be detectable. We simply don't know the specifics but there are trials ongoing in order to answer these questions. (Click here for more information on the REACT 2 Trial). It is currently suggested that you wait at least 14 days after infection or vaccination before testing. This is supported by our real-world experience of antibody testing for patients at The Hove Practice.
Finally, another important aspect of COVID-19 immune response (and immunity) to consider are T Cells. These may also play a parallel role in guarding against future infection. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to offer tests to detect the T-Cell immune response.
We have created the following table in order to assist you with understanding the tests before you book.
From the table above, you can see that you will receive a different result depending on the type of test you request.
The Post Vaccine test identifies antibodies to the "Spike Protein" part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If you have not previously suffered COVID-19 and have a positive result, we assume this is due to vaccination. You will also receive a level of antibodies in U/ml. We assume the larger the number the greater the degree of protection against COVID-19 infection, but this is not yet known. Nor is it known at what level you are protected from COVID-19 infection or if it offers any protection at all against COVID-19 variants. It is suggested that this test is used more for interest/curiosity purposes at this time.
Our IgM total antibody test is essential for all passengers travelling to China, as it is a condition of entry to that country. Unfortuantely our IgM test is not recognised by the Chinese government as suitable for travel as they only licence a few, selected, centres to provide this. You can perform your test with us for interest or, as many of our patients do, as a preliminary indicator.
Once you have decided which test you would like to take, you may be able to perform it as a finger prick through a pack we provide for self-collection, although we recommend you book in with our nurse, Mina, to either assist with the finger prick process or to perform it for you as a traditional (venous) blood test.
All our antibody tests are competitively priced at £110 (including a 15 minute nurse consultation fee). Additional types of antibody tests can be performed on the same sample for £60, along with any other form of blood testing you may wish (following discussion with our nurse).