Coronavirus (COVID-19) Antibody Testing

Were you recently ill and wondering if you had COVID-19?  Have you been in self-quarantine at home and wondering if it’s now safe to return to work or resume other activities?

Nasal swab testing for COVID-19 can only tell patients if they currently are infected with the virus. However, an antibody test, also known as a serologic test, can reveal if you have been infected with the virus in the past.

Steward Medical Group is now offering antibody (serology) testing at many of our practices. Your Primary Care Physician and Nurse Practitioner teams can address your concerns and questions about COVID-19 and antibody testing through an in-person office visit, or a telehealth virtual visit.

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Some of the most common questions and concerns we can offer you guidance on include:

  • Are you currently ill and have questions or concerns that you may have COVID-19?
  • Have you been exposed to someone with known COVID-19 and have questions regarding that?
  • How do we test for COVID-19? (nasal swabs and serologic testing can be reviewed)
  • When is serologic testing appropriate and what do the results of a serologic test mean?
  • What is the appropriate personal protective equipment and best personal hygiene practices to avoid contracting COVID-19?
  • How do we treat COVID-19?
  • Recovery from COVID-19, Available Support, Repeat Testing and Vaccine Outlook

How Does Antibody (Serology) Testing Work?

  1. Doctor’s office – Visit your doctor’s office or one of our laboratory partners
  2. Blood draw – a sample of blood will be drawn and tested
  3. Results to be shared from your doctor’s office

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are antibodies?

A: Antibodies are proteins that your immune system makes after you have had an infection. Antibodies help increases your body’s ability to fight off a disease if you are exposed to it again. There are different antibodies depending on the time after infection and they can be measured to determine recent or prior exposure of infection.

Q: What is the difference between an antibody (serologic) test and a COVID-19 test swab test?

A: The nasal swab test, also called a nasopharyngeal test, is the test that is administered to identify whether a person has COVID-19 present in their nasal passages at the time the test sample is taken. It will not determine whether a person has had a prior infection of COVID-19.

The antibody, or serological test, is conducted by taking a blood sample from a person who has had COVID-19 and has developed antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19, known as SARS-CoV-2. The detection of antibodies identifies a past infection of the virus. The test will not show if a person is currently infected.

Q: What does a positive antibody test result indicate?

A: A positive result can reveal if a person was previously infected with COVID-19. It also shows that the person has developed antibodies to the virus. A positive test can also be a false positive, and even if a person tests positive for antibodies, it does not mean the person is immune to COVID-19. It can also be used to determine how widespread COVID has been in a particular population as well as identify potential donors of convalescent plasma to help patients who are seriously ill from the virus.

Q: What does a negative antibody test result indicate?

A: If a person tests negative for COVID-19 antibodies, it means there is no evidence that the person has had a past COVID-19 infection. If a person’s symptoms continue or have cleared up less than two weeks before the blood draw was taken, it may be too early to detect the presence antibodies.

Q: Who should be tested?

A: The COVID-19 antibody test used by Steward Medical Group is available to people of all ages who are not showing any symptoms related to COVID-19. People who are still recovering from COVID-19, or who remain sick, cannot be tested using the serologic test. Your Steward Medical Group provider can see you with a telehealth virtual visit or face-to-face visit to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for antibody testing.

Q: How much does the testing cost?

A: Many health insurance plans are covering the cost of COVID-19 antibody testing. We recommend you check with your health plan if your doctor determines you are an appropriate candidate for serologic antibody testing.

Q: Who gets the results of my test?

Your personal health information is protected by law under the HIPAA Act. Steward Medical Group follows all guidelines and direction provided by the US government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in regard to HIPAA. If you have a patient portal account, your provider will communicate with you securely and confidentially about your test results. You should also expect your provider’s office to call you directly with the results of your COVID-19 antibody (serologic) test to inform you of the results and respond to any questions you may have.