nurse taking blood sample at home

Demystifying The COVID-19 Antibody Test

A COVID-19 antibody test will quickly determine if you previously had this virus – whether or not you had symptoms. In-home testing is a fast and convenient way to get your results without having to go out and potentially exposing yourself to the virus.

nurse preparing patient for blood work

What is an antibody test?

To understand what an antibody test is, let’s first talk about what antibodies are.

An antibody is a protein produced by white blood cells that defends against antigens (harmful bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances). Antibodies bind to the intruder and destroy it.

Every type of antibody defends against a specific antigen, meaning that an antibody for the flu won’t help with another kind of illness. This is why you’re less likely to catch the same cold twice, since your body has built up a defense against that virus.

How does an antibody test work?

An antibody test, also known as a serology test, determines whether you previously had COVID-19. During this test, your nurse will perform a venipuncture blood draw.

Drip Hydration uses venipuncture (blood draw) tests to determine if you have COVID-19 antibodies within 48 – 72 hours of administering the test.

Your antibody test will look for the presence of:

  • IgM (Immunoglobulin M) antibodies: These antibodies are your first line of defense against any kind of illness and develop earlier in your infection.
  • IgG (Immunoglobulin G) antibodies: These antibodies typically show up later in your infection, sometimes after you’ve recovered from your illness. These are the most common types of antibodies and are responsible for remembering illnesses you’ve had before, helping provide protection against the same illnesses in the future.

Are antibody tests accurate?

The accuracy of COVID-19 antibody tests are rated by their manufacturer and will vary from supplier to supplier. Drip Hydration uses highly accurate tests in our at-home appointments to help ensure your peace of mind.

What is the difference between an antibody test & a nasal swab test?

An antibody test is not the same thing as a COVID-19 test. An antibody test is a blood test that looks for signs of a previous infection.

A COVID-19 test looks for an active infection of SARS-CoV-2 – the current pandemic strain – in your system. This test takes the form of a nasal swab that must be sent to a lab for analysis. COVID-19 tests may take 48 – 72 hours for results.

Should I get both an Antibody Test & COVID-19 test done at the same time?

Some people choose to get both a COVID-19 and antibody test done at the same time. The combination of tests can show both if you currently have or previously had an infection.

Can An Antibody Test Show An Active Infection?

COVID-19 antibody tests are not designed to detect active infection. As discussed earlier, this test detects the presence of specific antibodies that your body has produced to fight off COVID-19.

If you suspect you may have COVID-19, you should seek a COVID-19 test instead of an antibody test for accurate results.

It takes time for antibodies to develop, sometimes after you have already recovered from your illness. As a result, it’s possible for this test to miss an infection if the virus is still in incubation or if your body has not yet produced antibodies.

However, if your body has started to produce antibodies at the time of your test, it is possible for your antibody test to show active infection.

What kind of results can a COVID-19 antibody test show?

There are four potential outcomes of a COVID-19 antibody test:

  • Both IgM and IgG are positive: Your body has an active COVID-19 infection and has mounted a defense against it.
  • Both IgM and IgG are negative: You have either never had a COVID-19 infection or the virus is still incubating.
  • IgM is positive, but IgG is negative: You have an active, early phase COVID-19 infection.
  • IgG is positive, but IgM is negative: You have likely recovered from a COVID-19 infection whether or not you had symptoms.

What Do Test Sensitivity And Specificity Mean?

All medical tests have a threshold above which a person is considered to have a specific illness or disease. This threshold needs to be placed high enough to correctly classify people with a disease, but not too low so that healthy individuals are not included in the diseased population.

  • Test sensitivity is the proportion of diseased individuals correctly classified by the test.
  • Test specificity is the proportion of non-diseased individuals who are correctly classified by the test.

Tests can give incorrect results depending on their specificity or sensitivity. Tests with low sensitivity or low specificity are more likely to give incorrect results. On the other hand, a test with high sensitivity is less likely to give a false negative, while a test with high specificity is less likely to give a false positive.

What are false positive and false negative results?

Although tests are designed to be as accurate as possible, results can sometimes be incorrect. This can lead to results such as false positives and false negatives. What do these terms mean?

  • False positive: The individual who was tested is not actually sick but tests positive anyway. False positives can also occur if a person is infected with a coronavirus strain other than SARS-CoV-2, which is the current pandemic strain.
  • False negative: The individual is actually sick but tests negative.

Getting the correct result is important for a number of reasons. False positives can lead to additional testing, treatment, costs, and fear for you and your family. False negatives, on the other hand, can lead to a potential spread and worsening of the illness, as you may not seek treatment if you do not think you are sick.

Tests with high specificity and sensitivity can minimize your chances of receiving an incorrect test result. Drip Hydration uses a test with high specificity and sensitivity for results that are as accurate as possible.

Why Do You Need Antibody Testing?

If antibody testing detects COVID-19 after you’ve already had it, then you may be wondering why you should get an antibody test.

Antibody tests are helpful because:

  • You can help health officials gather more data to develop a better idea of the extent and spread of COVID-19 by region, which in turn helps them offer better public health guidance.
  • You can help health officials understand how the immune response develops after a COVID-19 infection and if previously infected individuals have immunity, further contributing to the public knowledge of this novel coronavirus strain.
  • You can identify if you are an asymptomatic carrier and take steps to protect your friends and family to prevent them from getting sick.
  • You can know if you’ve had COVID-19 in order to return to work safely.
  • You can know whether you can donate convalescent plasma to help individuals who are very sick with COVID-19 recover from their illness.

Who should get an antibody test?

If you think you are currently sick with COVID-19, you should not get an antibody test. Instead, you should get a COVID-19 test.

You should get an antibody test if:

  • You have been sick with the virus and recovered
  • You want to know if you previously had the infection (with or without symptoms)

How Can You Get An Antibody Test?

Antibody tests can be performed by healthcare providers, some laboratories, and some universities. Every state has a different setup for their COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibody testing, so see your state’s guidance to find the nearest testing center near you.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of going to a clinic to find out if you previously had COVID-19, Drip Hydration offers in-home antibody tests for convenient, fast results and peace of mind.


nurse performing nose swab for corona testing

Get Tested Today with COVID-19 Antibody Testing Delivered to You

Our at-home COVID-19 antibody test is a convenient, and accurate way to determine if you previously had a COVID-19 infection and have developed antibodies. Our nurses come directly to your home for your appointment. For your safety, our nurses wear medical-grade masks and gloves and practice social distancing as much as possible.

We also offer a Nasal Swab for COVID-19 to help you determine if you are currently infected with the virus. Test results are generally available within 48-72 hours.

Learn more and make an appointment for our COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibody tests here.