Coronavirus (Covid-19) and testing: I tested positive for a fourth time

Filed Under: Costs, Patients

I have now tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) antibodies four times, and negative twice.

The most recent test is in a study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, “COVID in the Community: Sampling the Unsampled.” They sent out a test kit with a rapid antibody test to do at home, then two other tests — a dried blood spot test and a saliva sample — to be sent back for processing.

I did the rapid antibody test, and it’s positive for IgG, the longer-lasting antibodies, but negative for IgM, the rapid-response antibodies. The other two I’ll send in and wait on results.

The Mount Sinai researchers said their rapid test is a “lateral flow assay” rapid antibody test from Elabscience. It is commercially available and has an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, they said.

Here are the instructions on how to read the fast test — compare their diagrams with my test at top. Mine matches “IgG positive.” I was instructed on how to do it, then told to wait 15 minutes, take a picture on my phone and upload with their symptoms questionnaire as part of the “Sampling the Unsampled” survey.

Here’s background on my previous antibody tests — positive at the New York State Health Department popup site April 25, negative at CityMD (Abbott test) on May 10, positive at Stony Brook Medical Center on May 11 in their convalescent plasma donation program, positive again at Stony Brook on May 20 (both ChemBio), and negative at Westchester Medical Center June 24 (Abbott).

The seven-page testing protocol is embedded in the document below. They sent out a kit with sample materials for the three tests. The one at home, pictured above, gave results visible at home. One wonders why this is not more widespread — I know people who have gone through testing protocols that were much more time-consuming and much more complicated (and expensive). Of course I’m not paying anything to be in this study, but someone’s paying for the test materials — but I am guessing it is far less than the $125 or $150 that seems common for an antibody test.

Michael Peruggia, an associate researcher on the study, wrote in an email: “We have found the test to be fairly accurate, but guidelines are not as strict for research testing as they are for diagnostic testing. So we encourage participants not to make decisions based on the outcome of our rapid antibody test. Also, our test only says if you have the antibodies or not; it won’t provide a level for you.”

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