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Understanding Coronovirus / COVID-19 Testing
With thanks to advocate and guest blogger, Angie Galatas. Find Angie’s advocacy profile here: Medical Advocacy Plus, LLC Antigen, antibody, viral, serology, these are intimidating words that show up in news articles, media, and insurance documents related to COVID-19. The pandemic has led us to become investigators of not only the virus, but the medical terminology associated with it. Many people are suffering from fear, uncertainty, and exhaustion, trying to decode the information, and this is where a patient advocate can be of assistance. Let’s simplify information about testing and hopefully alleviate some of your confusion. There are two separate tests for the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Diagnostic testing: Also known as Viral/Antigen Test. Its purpose is to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection. This test determines if you have an active infection of the COVID-19 virus and consists of a nasal swab. Alternative rapid tests, similar to the flu tests we are familiar with at local clinics and physician offices, are currently under investigation and will hopefully be approved soon. Antibody Testing, also known as serological tests, measure the amount of antibodies in the blood to fight the virus. Antibody testing is particularly attractive to determine who has recovered from the virus (with or without symptoms) and developed an immune response. These tests are typically taken from a blood sample and take several days for results. More research on the accuracy of these tests is needed, as some results have come into question. Answering your questions about these virus tests: Which test should I take if I think I have the coronavirus? You would need a diagnostic test. If you have the symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC has guidance for testing, but the decisions about testing are at the discretion of the state and local health departments and or individual clinicians. If you receive a positive test result, you most likely are infected with the virus, and you should follow the recommendations from your healthcare provider or follow the guidelines issued by the CDC. If you test negative for the virus, you probably don’t have the COVID-19 virus; however, a word of caution: that does not mean you will not get sick, according to the CDC. There is a chance you may have an infection, even with a negative result. This last statement sounds contradictory and confusing; therefore, reaching out to your patient advocate can help explain and…