Test Yourself At Home for COVID-19 Antibodies
If there is one thing the world has learned so far during the course of this pandemic, it’s the critical importance of testing for the disease. At present, three types of tests are currently available in Hong Kong. Two of them – a DNA test and a blood test – are conducted in a clinic or a hospital and then analysed in a lab.
A third alternative is a finger prick blood test that you can do yourself from home. This article will focus on the latter, also known as an Antibody Mobile Test kit, and give you details on the product itself, the type of testing it provides, pros and cons as well as how it works.
|COVID-19 Antibody mobile test kits can be ordered online and shipped to your home or office in Hong Kong and internationally.|
What is an antibody do-it-yourself test?
An Antibody Mobile Test is carried out by a device that pricks your finger for blood to determine whether there are antibodies of the COVID-19 virus in your blood sample. Specifically, it looks for IgM antibodies, which the immune system produces early in the course of most viral infections, as well as IgG antibodies, which appear later as the disease progresses. The presence of these antibodies in the blood strongly suggests that a person has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus and developed an immune reaction to it.
Antibody Mobile Test kits are usually purchased online, delivered to your doorstep and performed from the comfort of home. Results are delivered in about 15 minutes.
Why use it?
The kits are convenient, confidential and allow users to maintain social distancing at a time when many people are reluctant to visit healthcare facilities. They are also easy-to-use, increasingly affordable and can potentially improve health care for patients in areas where access is limited.
Because they deliver on-the-spot results in minutes, they can rapidly provide clues on next steps for diagnosis and care.
There are a few manufacturers of COVID-19 Antibody Mobile Test Kit that have obtained both CFDA and CE certification and are allowed to export out of China. As you can see from the information below, these test kits have been approved by the Department of Health in Australia and the FDA in the Philippines.
At present, no Antibody Home Test kit is accurate enough to confirm whether an individual has been exposed to the virus. Specifically, none are accurate enough at identifying people who have had the virus, a property called test sensitivity, and those who have not been infected, known as test specificity. To get a sense, while a high-quality test should achieve 99% or more in terms of sensitivity and specificity, some commercial antibody tests have recorded specificities as low as 40% early in the infection.
Also, an important unknown surrounding these tests is that scientists do not know exactly when specific antibodies develop and how long they stay in the body. As a result, the tests might miss cases if samples are taken too early, when the viral load is too low or if the person’s body has not produced antibodies against the virus yet. Another big question is the extent to which being infected confers immunity to reinfection. There may also be variations between individuals.
Accuracy is also determined by sample collection. Antibody Home Tests are conducted in a less controlled environment than a lab, which can affect the performance of the kit.
For all the reasons outlined above, Antibody Home Test kits can be a helpful tool, but cannot be used as the sole basis for diagnosis. And since a positive COVID-19 antibody test indicates that there is either a recent or a past infection, further testing will be required in the event of a positive result.
Looking to get further testing? Check out our guide on getting a COVID-19 test in Hong Kong.
Antibody testing: How it Works
For those interested in further exploring this type of testing, several online providers carry CFDA and European CE-certified Antibody Home Test kits that can be delivered locally as well as in many countries worldwide.
To better understand the testing process of this kit, here are step-by-step instructions that explain clearly the procedure.
- Order the testing kit on your preferred provider’s website.
- Once the package is delivered to your home and you are ready for testing, please read the following instructions carefully:a) Wash your hands at least 20 seconds and dry your hands well with paper towel.
b) Open the package and lay all of its contents on a clean surface.
d) Open the small plastic bag, take out the test card and place it in front of you.
e) Take out the alcohol swab to clean the fingertip of your index finger.
f) Take the purple lancet and take off the cap.
g) Squeeze the area below your clean fingertip until your fingertip turns red. In so doing, make sure that you avoid touching your clean fingertip.
h) Place the lancet on your clean fingertip and push until it clicks to prick finger.
i) Collect 2-3 drops of blood by using the dropper from your fingertip. Note: You may need to squeeze your finger a little until blood appears.
j) Transfer all collected blood to the small well located on the test card.
k) Take off the cap of the diluent and pour the diluent into the big well located on the test card
l) Wait 15 minutes for the test resultsm) Place Band-Aid onto prickled area of fingertip
n) Interpreting results:
- Order the testing kit on your preferred provider’s website.
If test shows two bands, it indicates that the result is positive
If test shows one band at C, the result is considered negative
If test shows either 1 band at T or no bands, then the test is invalid
Antibodies can be detected as early as one week after infection, with slight variations between individuals. Negative result indicates no infection or infection at a very early stage or in recovery. Positive result indicates an infection with coronavirus. The overall accuracy of these tests is around 91.61% (may vary).
Important: The results from antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose an infection. Any positive result will require further investigation. Please note that the negative result also does not guarantee that you will not become infected in the future. Please seek medical advice if you have fever, respiratory symptoms, contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19 patients or travel to high-risk epidemic regions. Testing samples are considered infectious. Handle the specimen in accordance with infectious disease laboratory regulation and beware of biosafety. Advice to use with guidance with your local health professional(s). This is for disease surveillance only. You should seek medical attention immediately for any clinical symptoms and various medical indicators.
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