Nasal PCR Swab Test:
If you are currently sick, have been exposed to someone who is sick, or have concerns about carrying COVID-19, you need a nasal swab test. This test is collected using a small foam tipped swab deep into your nasal passages to try to collect pieces of the virus. Although a bit uncomfortable, this test is the only test we have that detects the COVID-19 virus when you are still contagious.
Unfortunately, this virus can be hard to track down. About 3 out of 10 people with a negative swab test still have COVID-19! While a positive swab test definitively confirms you have COVID-19, a negative test tells us we need to stay cautious and keep you in quarantine until you feel better.
Antibody Testing IgG
If you were sick with COVID-like symptoms in the past 3 months, are currently sick for more than 2 weeks, or would like to know if you have developed an immune response to COVID-19, you need IgG antibody testing. This test is collected with a standard blood draw and looks for the long term immune system response to COVID-19. This test is very good at determining who has been infected with COVID-19 in the past.
It is too early to determine if a positive IgG test means you are immune to COVID-19 but current evidence suggests it does provide some protection against the virus. Scientists around the world are working hard to understand how much protection a person with a positive IgG test will have in the future. Our hope is that IgG antibodies provide long lasting immunity. If you have a positive result, this may come in very handy for relaxing social distancing rules in the very near future.
Why we may recommend BOTH tests
Much like our current social distancing approach, getting both tests for COVID-19 is a way to protect those around you. Reports are showing that there are many more people carrying this virus with no symptoms. This makes tracking down COVID-19 very difficult if we do not test people often.
In a perfect world, we would get a nasal swab every 3-4 weeks to determine who is spreading the virus in our community. If you are in frequent contact with the frail, the elderly, or those with multiple health issues, getting both tests is a great way to understand your immediate risk in spreading the disease.