Understanding Your COVID-19 Antibody Test Results

Priority STD Testing is now offering COVID-19 antibody testing. This test checks for antibodies to COVID-19. Your body makes antibodies as part of the  immune response to the virus. If you've received a test and need assistance interpreting your results, these resources will provide guidance and suggestions regarding your next steps.

Negative Antibody Results

Your results were negative. This means IgG antibodies were not detected in the sample you provided. Your results suggest that you were not exposed to COVID-19 or have not yet developed IgG antibodies*​. Although not having IgG antibodies suggests that you may still be able to get COVID-19, there is not enough evidence at this time to determine whether or not you are at risk. If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, follow-up testing with a molecular test (PCR) should be considered to check for active infection.

* If you were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, were exposed to someone with COVID-19, or previously had symptoms of COVID-19, there is a possibility of a false negative. If you test too soon, your body may not have produced enough IgG antibodies to be detected by the test yet. If that is the case, retesting may be needed.

Next Steps

  • It’s important to share your results with your healthcare provider. Together, you can figure out next steps and create a plan that’s right for you.
  • Because your test came back negative, if you are exposed to COVID-19 or develop symptoms, follow-up with your healthcare provider.
  • If you’re a healthcare professional, first responder, other frontline worker, or critical infrastructure worker, talk to your employer for specific occupational health guidance. You should adhere to the recommendations set forth by your employer or the department of health, as they may differ from the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Be sure to continue to follow federal, state, and local government guidance regarding social distancing and quarantine.
  • If you have questions about this test or your results, you can contact the PWNHealth Care Coordination Team at 315-401-7865, Monday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time, or email us at ​covid19@pwnhealth.com​. You can also leave a message after hours and a PWNHealth team member will call you back as soon as possible.

FDA disclaimers:

  • This test has not been approved by the FDA.
  • Negative results do not rule out COVID-19 infection, particularly in those who have been in contact with the virus. Follow-up testing with a molecular diagnostic should be considered to rule out infection in these individuals.
  • Results from antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude COVID-19 infection or to inform infection status.
  • Positive results may be due to past or present infection with non-SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus strains, such as coronavirus HKU1, NL63, OC43, or 229E.

General FAQs

There are currently no vaccines for COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid situations in which you may be exposed to the virus. Everyday actions can help protect you and prevent the spread of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Restrict any activities outside your home and maintain a safe distance (around 6 feet) between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This includes avoiding crowded areas, shopping malls, religious gatherings, public transportation, etc.
  • Wear simple cloth face coverings in public settings (like grocery stores and pharmacies) where social distancing is difficult, especially in areas where COVID-19 is spreading.
  • Stay home when you are sick, unless you are seeking medical care.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (including tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

If you think you have been exposed, it is important to closely monitor for symptoms. Most mild cases of COVID-19 resolve within 2 weeks without treatment. Seek medical attention immediately if you develop severe symptoms, especially if you experience any of the following:

  • Severe trouble breathing (such as being unable to talk without gasping for air)
  • Continuous pain or pressure in your chest
  • Feeling confused
  • Blue-colored lips or face
  • Severe and continuous dizziness or lightheadedness

If you seek medical attention, be sure to call ahead before visiting the facility. This will help the facility keep other people from possibly getting infected or exposed.

  • Tell any healthcare provider that you may have COVID-19.
  • Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Put on a facemask before you enter any healthcare facility.

Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. It is one of the best ways to avoid being exposed and to help slow the spread of the virus, especially if you are in an area where COVID-19 is widespread. It is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you have no symptoms. Social distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Social or physical distancing includes:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people
  • Not gathering in groups
  • Staying out of crowded places and avoiding mass gatherings

If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, it is very important to stay home and limit your interaction with others in your household and in public.

  • If you have not been tested but may have been exposed to COVID-19, self-monitoring and self-quarantine is recommended to see if you get sick.
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19, self-isolation is recommended so that you do not pass the virus to others.

For more information on self-isolation and self-quarantine, click here.

If you are a healthcare professional, first responder, frontline worker, or critical infrastructure worker and believe you have been directly exposed while at work, you should consult your place of work for specific occupational health guidance about whether to stay home or continue working. You should adhere to recommendations set forth by your employer or the department of health, as they may differ from the CDC’s guidelines.

Isolation and quarantine are both ways to limit your interaction with others to prevent the spread of disease.

  • Isolation is separating individuals with COVID-19 from people who are not sick. Individuals are separated for a period of time until they are no longer infectious.
  • Quarantine is separating individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 but haven’t been tested. They are separated for a brief period of time (14 days after possible exposure) to see if they develop symptoms.

For more information on self-isolation and self-quarantine, click here.

If you are a healthcare professional, first responder, frontline worker, or critical infrastructure worker and believe you have been directly exposed while at work, you should consult your place of work for specific occupational health guidance about whether to stay home or continue working. You should adhere to recommendations set forth by your employer or the department of health, as they may differ from the CDC’s guidelines.

If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, please check with your primary healthcare provider or local health department to help determine when it’s right to stop isolation. Typically this is done when fever and symptoms improve and/or a specified amount of time has passed, or when you’ve had follow-up PCR testing done. Be sure to continue to follow federal, state, and local government guidance regarding social distancing and isolation. For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)​ ​website​.

At this time, it is not known whether someone who has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 can become infected again after recovering.

Serology (Antibody) Test FAQs

An antibody test checks to see if you’ve developed antibodies against COVID-19, which occurs after being exposed to the virus. Antibody tests do not show whether a person is currently infected. PCR tests check for genetic material (viral RNA) produced by the virus. It determines if you’re currently infected and can spread COVID-19 to others.

You should get an antibody test to check if you’ve been previously exposed to COVID-19.

You should get a PCR test if you have symptoms of COVID-19, are a healthcare worker, or you live or work in a place where people reside, meet, or gather in close proximity. This can include homeless shelters, assisted living facilities, group homes, detention centers, schools, and workplaces.

A PCR test may also be helpful if you currently have symptoms of COVID-19 or want to check if you have the virus and can pass it on to others.

If your test results show that you’re positive for COVID-19 antibodies in the blood, it means you’ve likely been exposed to COVID-19. Although having antibodies usually gives immunity from further infection, there is not enough evidence at this time to suggest that people who have these antibodies are protected against future COVID-19 infections.

All COVID-19 antibody tests look for antibodies in the blood specific to the virus.

There are antibody tests that look for one specific antibody (such as an IgG test). Other antibody tests look for the presence of multiple antibodies (such as a total antibody test). Both types of tests are used to help identify if you have been exposed to the virus. However, there seems to be no advantage in using one test over another. At this time, IgM and IgG antibodies are the most useful for assessing antibody response to COVID-19 because little is known about IgA antibody response in the blood.

If you’re having symptoms of COVID-19, contact your doctor or local health department to get tested for active infection. The antibody test can only tell you if you’ve been exposed and have developed an immune response, but it cannot say whether you have an active infection. For that, you’ll need a molecular (PCR) test.

This test will show whether or not you have developed antibodies to COVID-19.