Our experience with COVID-19/coronavirus antibody testing
There is no doubt that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, will continue to impact our daily lives for the foreseeable future. The medical community has worked tirelessly to research this new virus and provide the best possible means for stopping its spread and improving health outcomes for those who become infected.
Olympus Health & Performance is part of the medical community and is in a unique position to aid the recovery and research process by being Utah’s first private provider of coronavirus antibody testing. In addition, we offer coronavirus PCR testing and coronavirus rapid antigen testing. As we have first-hand experience with the tests, testing process, data collection and reporting, and more, we wanted to share the answers to the top-5 frequently asked questions that come up about testing.
But first, a little about us
Those who have known us prior to COVID-19 understand Olympus Health & Performance’s reputation as a top-quality provider of IV infusions, vitamin shots, and aesthetic services. But because our business was founded by a practicing surgeon and nurse practitioner, we have in-depth medical expertise that allows us to do much more, including COVID-19 antibody testing. We are a HIPAA-compliant, CLIA-certified healthcare company staffed by experienced nurses, many of whom have worked with local hospitals and care providers that you know and trust. To date, we have tested over 5,000 individuals for COVID-19 antibodies!
Why is there so much conflicting information about COVID-19?
The scientific method and medical research can be messy to those unfamiliar with it, and it’s common for there to be disagreements in the medical community as new ideas are presented and vetted. Most of the time this process plays out quietly within the scientific community, as the public is not typically interested in a scientific discovery until a consensus is reached. COVID-19 is different, and we’re seeing this process play out in a very public manner due to its worldwide impact. While transparency is important, it is also creating confusion. Making things worse, sometimes members of the medical community — some of whom are not even experts on virology, epidemiology, or serology — make inaccurate claims that are amplified by social media and media sources that thrive on sensationalistic headlines.
When trying to determine what is the best available current information, look for scientific consensus amongst leaders in research and health organizations across the globe who are tasked with understanding and fighting this virus. We are proud to be part of this community, as our antibody test results are anonymously aggregated and sent to the US Department of Health & Human Services, the state of Utah, and other appropriate organizations so the data can help us understand more about the virus and its spread.
What’s the difference between a COVID-19 PCR test and a COVID-19 antibody test?
A COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction, nucleic acid) test typically uses a throat or nasal swab to determine whether you have an active COVID-19 infection. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you need to get a standard COVID-19 PCR test. Even without symptoms, if you’ve been exposed to someone who has an active infection, it is advisable to get a COVID-19 PCR test to determine whether you may be infected but asymptomatic. The results of a standard test help us understand whether an individual needs to immediately quarantine and advise others who have been in close contact with the individual that they need to get tested and self-isolate until receiving results. We offer streamlined COVID-19 PCR Testing to help keep staff and customers safe.
Antibody testing, on the other hand, identifies whether you’ve been exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus in the past. It can take up to 10-14 days for the body to develop antibodies, so the test is not meant to identify active or very recent infections.
Am I immune to the virus if I have antibodies?
We don’t know yet. This is part of the scientific research that goes on every day. We know that antibodies, in general, are your body’s way of recognizing and fighting the virus if it enters your body again. If COVID-19 antibodies are similar to other types of coronaviruses (such as those that cause common colds, which are much more prevalent and less impactful), then you should have some immunity, but the research is continuing. For this reason, even if you test positive for antibodies we recommend continuing to follow CDC guidelines, such as wearing face coverings in public, social distancing, and regularly washing your hands.
Are the tests accurate? I hear so much conflicting information!
There are many different tests out there, and some are more accurate than others. We carefully researched the test kits we use, which are FDA-authorized, and are confident in the results. The test kits we use have 97% sensitivity and near 100% specificity, which means they are very reliable. High sensitivity indicates that the test is sensitive enough to rarely miss COVID-19 antibodies that exist in your blood. High specificity means that the test is identifying specific COVID-19 antibodies, and not the countless other types of antibodies in your blood. Not all tests are FDA-authorized and some have lower degrees of sensitivity or specificity, so if you’re not being tested by us, be sure to ask the testing provider to share this information with you.
We also have compared our test data against tested populations across the country and have found that our results are similar to other areas of the country that use high-quality test kits. Our data is showing that 4.5% of Salt Lake County, 8.8% of Summit County, 3.2% of Davis County, and 4.9% of Utah County individuals who have been tested are positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
When will things go back to normal?
This is what we would all like to know! As we’ve said, COVID-19 is here to stay, but thankfully it won’t always be a global pandemic. As we develop herd immunity and are better equipped to protect our most vulnerable populations, it will become less risky to return to a normal routine.
The quickest and safest way for a population to achieve herd immunity is through widespread vaccination against a virus, but while there has been great progress in COVID-19 vaccine development, experts predict mass availability of an approved vaccine may not happen until several months into 2021. Until a substantial portion of the population (experts suggest 80-95%) have been vaccinated, we must continue to be vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 by following CDC guidelines to protect ourselves and our communities.
If you would like to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies, you can learn more and schedule a COVID-19 antibody test through Olympus Health & Performance. Call (385) 645-6137 for current pricing. We are mobile and can come to you, you can visit us for testing in our office or you can visit our pop-up testing stations during one of our testing events (follow us on Instagram for event information).