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Should I get tested for COVID-19 antibodies? Can antibody testing tell whether someone has been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19?

Last Updated: 06/26/2020

Antibodies are produced by the body to fight infection and can be found in the blood.

If a person's blood is found to have antibodies to a particular virus or bacteria, then it is likely they were exposed in the past. It is even possible, but by no means certain, that they may now be immune to that type of infection.

Antibody testing relies on obtaining a blood sample and is often called "serology" or "serologic testing."

The numerous products that have recently become available to test for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the specific coronavirus that causes COVID-19, have significant issues associated with them.

There is still a lot about the serology of SARS-CoV-2 that remains unknown. The New Jersey Department of Health recommends against using any antibody testing to attempt to diagnose current or past infection with SARS-CoV-2.

A positive result on a SARS-CoV-2 antibody test should not be viewed as evidence of immunity to or past infection with COVID-19.

The CDC has developed a laboratory blood test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, but that test is designed as a research tool that will give public health officials more information needed to guide the response to the pandemic. The test is not currently designed to test individuals who want to know if they have been previously infected with COVID-19.

Testing For COVID-19 Infection

If you want to find out if you are currently infected with COVID-19, get a diagnostic test. These tests are now available to everyone in New Jersey.

You could have COVID-19 and not even know it. Find out if you have COVID-19 at any of the 250+ testing sites across New Jersey.

It's quick and easy. You don't need insurance and free testing is available.

It's especially important to get tested if:

  1. You are experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, muscle pain, shivering, headache, or new loss of taste or smell)
  2. You have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
  3. You are an essential worker (health care worker, first responder, food service worker, or transit worker)
  4. You were recently in a large crowd where social distancing was hard to maintain
  5. You recently travelled to an area or a state with high COVID-19 infection rates

Visit COVID19.nj.gov/testing to find a testing site near you or to learn more about how testing saves lives.