SAHPRA have recently announced the approval of  a COVID-19 antibody test. HSP Group is now able to offer the antibody blood test to our clients as well as the diagnostic, PCR Swab test .

What is the antibody blood test?

These antibody blood tests indirectly measure exposure or infection by detecting antibodies made in the normal immune response to a viral infection, this test should not be used as a diagnostic tool.

This test should specifically be used for purposes of screening those individuals who are NOT showing symptoms of infection, as a starting point for screening. Where an individual is presenting with symptoms, they should always have the COVID-19 nose or throat swab PCR testing conducted for a diagnosis.

When to use the COVID-19 Antibody blood test?

For Research PurposesIn Industry
To determine the rate of exposure or prevalence of infection in specific populationsTo assist with screening of employees and healthcare workers
To identify individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 as possible donors of convalescent plasma as a possible treatment option for COVID-19 diseaseTo confirm previous infection in individuals that have had a clinical illness that suggests COVID-19, but have negative PCR results or have not been tested
Used in COVID-19 vaccine research to determine vaccine efficacy

What do the test results mean?

The appearance of antibodies with viral infections means that the person has had the infection and their body has developed detectable antibodies to the virus.

Viral infections usually follow the same pattern, IgM is produced first indicating a current or recent infection and then disappears. This immune response is then followed by the production of IgG, which lasts for a longer period.

With the COVID-19 infection, this sequential appearance of antibodies is not normal or consistent and sometimes IgM appears around day 5 after infection, but in the majority of infected individuals both IgM and IgG occur together at around day 10-14 after infection i.e. the window period of this test is 10-14 days from symptom onset to detection of antibodies.

Estimated Time Line for Detection of SARS-CoV-2 by Laboratory Tests

(Image Credit: Image taken from Lancet Laboratories Newsletter)

The results of the COVID-19 antibody blood tests are qualitative, meaning they provide you with a result as to whether antibodies have been detected or not so the result is either positive or negative. These tests are unable to determine the quantity of the levels of antibodies detected nor are they able to indicate if the antibody is protective from re-infection. Detecting these antibodies does not currently assume immunity to the virus, as this remains an unknown at this stage.

Contact HSP Group today to find out more information or to book your COVID-19 antibody testing.

References:Lancet Laboratories Newsletter on SARS-CoV-2 Testing Update 2nd Quarter 2020 compiled by Prof Eftyhia Vardas

For a copy of this entire newsletter, please feel free to send a request entitled “Complete Lancet 2nd Quarter 2020 newsletter” in the subject line to: