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An at-home test can tell you if you had COVID-19 – should you buy one?

Millions of people across America are on pins and needles about whether or not they’ve contracted COVID-19. The disease is a great mimic of symptoms caused by milder illnesses like colds or the flu, and only a genuine test can confirm your exposure to the novel coronavirus.

That’s why multiple diagnostic companies are competing to deliver at-home or self-initiated test kits that anyone can use. If users can test themselves, they can continue to flatten the curve and avoid risking exposure to others in a healthcare setting. Tap or click here to find out how you can sign up for LabCorp’s new at-home test.

While only a small handful of companies have seen their tests approved by the FDA, a new entry to the field is now available from Quest Diagnostics. This test will confirm if your body has created antibodies for COVID-19, which can indicate you had the disease and recovered! Here’s how to get your hands on it.

Quest Diagnostics announces a new antibody test for COVID-19

In an announcement posted on April 28, Quest Diagnostics revealed that its consumer antibody test for COVID-19 would be available online without the need for a doctor’s note. Patients who suspect they’ve been exposed to or recovered from COVID-19 can order the test directly from Quest Diagnostics for the price of $119.

An antibody test is useful in determining whether patients possess any degree of protection from the virus, which humans currently have no herd immunity. Health officials say that a positive antibody test does not guarantee immunity to reinfection, but it is thought that it may help provide some resistance to future exposure.

Related: Apple and Google’s new contact-tracing tool will work on your phone

U.S. officials and corporate leaders are hoping enough positive antibody tests will convince people that it’s safe to return to work. Or at the very least, give those who test positive for antibodies a chance to resume their normal lives.

How does this test work?

Before you pay for the test via Quest’s website, you’ll be given a screening to determine whether an antibody test is right for you. Patients still experiencing symptoms are not advised to take the test, and are told to wait until at least 10 days have passed with no symptoms or fever.

Once you pay for the test, you’ll be scheduled for a blood draw at one of Quest’s 2,200 labs. Once blood is drawn, your results will be available in 1-2 days. It’s a simple procedure with incredibly fast turnaround time.

Are there any downsides to antibody testing?

If you’re not fond of needles, then this test isn’t for you. Blood has to be drawn in order to test for antibodies, so people who’d prefer saliva or nasal tests are better off looking elsewhere.

Additionally, mild cases are being advised to wait it out by self-isolating before taking the test. Once that 10-day window mentioned above has passed, they’re free to take the antibody test to see if they now have some kind of resistance to the disease.

Related: COVID-19 scam treatments you need to watch out for.

Interestingly, some countries are already thinking of issuing “immunity passports” for people who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, which would give them exclusive access to work and travel before lockdown restrictions are lifted. From what we can tell, the U.S. has no plans to initiate such a program.

Still, knowing you had the disease and recovered is important. As a brand new disease that we’ve never seen before, nobody is 100% certain of the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Previous diseases in the same family of coronavirus like SARS had long term complications, including fatigue, in some patients. It’s also unknown whether or not the virus hides in the body upon recovery, like the chickenpox virus or HIV.

Knowing you have antibodies will confirm you had COVID-19 and will clue you into whether or not it’s worth monitoring yourself for symptoms post-recovery. Plus, with every positive antibody test, you’re feeding more scientific data to the myriad of researchers attempting to understand this new disease. That knowledge is powerful, indeed.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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