News 12's Kevin Vesey chronicles his antibody test after beating COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, many Long Islanders are turning to antibody tests to find out if they've previously had the virus and recovered. But with so many different tests on the market, medical experts say it's easy to get lost in the shuffle.
"Not all antibody tests are created equal. In fact, there's a difference in the quality of many of them," says Dr. Aaron Glatt, with Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside.
Dr. Glatt says some tests yield false negative results, which could have dangerous consequences.
"That's a disaster, because if you're told you're 'immune,' which the tests don't necessarily tell you any way, but if you think you are immune and you're not, then you're going to walk around like you're Superman, thinking you're not able to get COVID, when in fact you're not immune and you could get COVID. You could be spreading it before you realize you have it," Glatt says.
Doctors say a good antibody test has an accuracy rate, also known as a "specificity," of 98% or higher.
VIDEO: Interview with Dr. Aaron Glatt of Mount Sinai South Nassau
Patients should also consider the kind of antibody that's being detected. The IGM variety is a short-term antibody that shows up early in the infection and then disappears. Whereas the IGG type is a long-term antibody that could keep you healthy in the future.
So far, scientists have not proven if patients who've recovered from coronavirus will later be immune. But Dr. Glatt says the evidence is pointing in that direction.
Glatt says, "In the short term, you probably aren't going to get COVID again. I don't know what the short term means, one week, two weeks, 10 weeks, we don't know. Right now there aren't any reported cases in the entire world of someone getting COVID a true second time."
For now, doctors advise everyone to observe social distancing, including those who have tested positive for antibodies.