Pharmaceutical giant, Dischem and retailer Clicks are now offering Covid-19 antibody tests at any of its clinics nationwide.
Speaking on VOC’s Breakfast show on Tuesday morning, epidemiologist Dr Jody Boffa detailed the difference between the PCR test (PCR tests are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen, rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies) and the new antibody test.
“The antibody test is different from the PCR test generally used in SA and was only recently approved for use. Until now you’ve had to go to one of the private labs for a test,” stated Boffa.
Boffa said while Covid-19 antibody tests are now widely available but are not a free pass.
“The only thing it will be able to tell us is whether or not (potentially) you have had covid-19 before but it doesn’t necessarily tell us if you are immune to contracting the disease again,” explained Boffa.
Terms and conditions of course apply. A negative test cannot guarantee any prior infection and vice versa. Antibodies also don’t rule out possible reinfection. She acknowledged that out of curiosity, like so many, she would like to know if she has had Covid-19.
“Ultimately, you would be satisfying your curiosity,” laughed Boffa.
For example, if a person had Covid-19 asymptomatically early on, and there are no longer any antibodies left in the system to test positive, she adds.
“The problem is that we don’t know how long the antibodies will last so it is not a guaranteed immunity of having Covid-19 again,” said Boffa.
“The government wants to know how many people have been infected and eventually we will get a better sense of how long that protection lasts because there is proof even though it is rare that some people may get infected again,” detailed Boffa.
All it takes is a blood sample collected from a finger price at a cost of between R199 and R380.
“Feel free to get it, it might give you peace of mind but it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you were to contract it again your response would be the same,” reminded Boffa.
There is now irrefutable proof among a small sample globally, that some people are being re-infected with Covid-19.
“Many personnel in the medical field have been getting tested because obviously for them it is important to know whether or not they have been exposed,” said Boffa.