COVID – 19 Patient Information Sheet
What is being tested?
When a person is infected with a virus, the body’s immune system develops antibodies to fight it. There are several types of antibodies, however the IgG antibody continues to circulate in your blood after the infection is cleared. The presence of IgG antibodies in your blood is what is being tested. This may be particularly useful for individuals who developed relatively mild symptoms but were never tested for the virus. This test is qualitative – you either have the antibody (positive) or you don’t (negative). This test in not quantitative – it does not tell you how much of the antibody you have if you are positive.
Who qualifies for testing?
You must be asymptomatic to qualify for testing. Patients interested in having the antibody test must be asymptomatic without the use of medication (Tylenol, anti-inflammatory meds, antibiotics, etc) for at least 10 days. Patients must also have a prescription from a physician in order to be tested.
What’s the process to get tested?
The first step to be tested is to schedule an appointment with one of the Princeton Spine & Joint Center physicians for a telemedicine visit. This is done via a computer, tablet or smart phone with a camera/microphone in ordered to assess and make sure you qualify for testing. If you qualify, a prescription for the test will be faxed to the lab of your choice and you can call the lab to schedule an appointment with them. During your appointment a simple blood draw will occur to collect one vial of blood which will be processed by the lab. After your blood is drawn, you can call and schedule a second telemedicine visit with the physician at Princeton Spine & Joint Center 1-2 days later to discuss the results.
Which labs are doing this test?
Most commercial labs are performing this test; however there are many labs that have closed due to the pandemic. Both Quest (609-688-9168) and Labcorp (609-688-0543) in Princeton Professional Park are open and conducting this test.
Does insurance cover it?
Yes. The recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was expanded on 4/11/20 to include this test. The legislation requires that private health issuers and employer group health plans cover COVID-19 testing with no out-of-pocket expenses. See the link below for more details.
What happens after the test?
Most labs will send the results to the physician in 1- 2 days after your blood draw. After your blood is drawn, you can call and schedule a second telemedicine visit with your physician at Princeton Spine & Joint Center 1-2 days later to discuss the results. If your results are not received in time for your follow up appointment for whatever reason, it will likely be rescheduled.
What does it mean to have a negative test?
If the results show that you are IgG negative, it indicates that you have likely not been exposed to the SARS- CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus. Again, this test does not check for the presence of the actual virus in your body but rather the presence of an antibody. Negative results do not rule out the possibility of an active infection; particularly in those who have come in contact with the virus or who have begun to develop symptoms.
What does it mean to have a positive test?
Detection of IgG antibodies may indicate exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and there may be some degree of immunity. Unfortunately, there is not enough data to establish a concrete relationship between being IgG positive and being completely immune to COVID-19. In other words, just because a person has a positive IgG, it doesn’t mean that patient is free and clear form getting COVID-19.
In other typical viruses, there is a clear correlation between inferred immunity and the presence of IgG antibodies; however scientific information about COVID-19 including the spread, time course, symptoms, treatment and immune response is constantly changing and we cannot assume anything about this virus until more data is collected. Regardless of antibody status, it is strongly recommended that everyone continue to adhere to state and federal recommendations regarding social distancing, hand hygiene face masks, etc.
How accurate is this test?
The two markers for any test are sensitivity and specificity and in general, the closer these numbers are to 100%, the better. The test manufacturers have been reporting 90-100% in most cases; however these have not been validated by independent testers due to the pandemic. The false positive and false negative rates have not been firmly established at this time due to the urgency for testing.
What if I develop symptoms after testing?
Contact your primary care physician if you develop symptoms including cough, fever, shortness of breath, chills or GI symptoms regardless if your test is positive or negative. Again, the antibody test does not check for an active infection. Additionally, since this is a new test with minimal validated studies, the false negative rates have not been established. If you do not have a primary care physician, we can refer you to one.