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Covid-19 antibody tests now available in SA, but what do they really tell us?

19 October 2020 9:26 AM

Epidemiologist Dr Boffa explains why the antibody test is not a guarantee you've had the virus, nor that you won't be re-infected.

As of today, Clicks is offering Covid-19 antibody tests at any of its clinics nationwide. This follows on Dis-Chem offering them from its drive-in clinic in Midrand.

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.

All it takes is a blood sample collected from a finger price at a cost of between R199 and R380.

Terms and conditions of course apply. A negative test can not guarantee any prior infection and vice versa. Antibodies also don't rule out possible reinfection.

Epidemiologist Dr Jody Boffa talks to John Maytham and says while Covid-19 antibody tests are now widely available but are not a free pass.

She acknowledges that out of curiosity, like so many, she would like to know if she has had Covid-19.

But at the end of the day what is it really telling us? It will tell us if we have had it, but it won't tell us if it will prevent us from having it again.

Dr Jody Boffa, Epidemiologist - Centre of Rural Health

Ther is now irrefutable proof among a small sample globally, that some people are being re-infected with Covid-19.

It is very rare that it has been shown to have happened, and that people have had two distinct infections with coronavirus, but the problem is we don't know how long immunity may last of the antibody test comes back positive.

Dr Jody Boffa, Epidemiologist - Centre of Rural Health

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.

So a negative may not even necessarily mean you did not have it.

Dr Jody Boffa, Epidemiologist - Centre of Rural Health

Listen to the interview with Dr Jody Boffa below:


19 October 2020 9:26 AM

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