Sharon Delaney, CNM, ARNP, MPH
Integrating her knowledge of the relationship between public health and personal health to provide holistic women’s healthcare, Sharon brings her expertise to her current women’s health practice at Spokane Valley Holistic Healing, and is excited to offer antibody testing to the community.
We are pleased to announce that we now offer antibody testing for covid-19 (SARS CoV-2) through both Boston Heart Diagnostics and LabCorp. This blood test will tell you whether or not you have previously had covid-19. Because it takes up to 2 weeks to fully develop antibodies once exposed to the virus, it makes sense to have this test done at least 2 weeks after being sick with covid-like symptoms. However, some people have mild or no symptoms, so the antibody test will tell you if your body has developed an immune response, regardless of whether or not you felt sick.
It’s very important not to confuse antibody testing with the PCR nasal swab test that looks for the presence of actual virus. This testing is done elsewhere, as we do not have the facilities and PPE for conducting the test for covid-19. If you have already tested positive for covid-19, an antibody test will give a better understanding of how much of an immune response you had.
a positive covid-19 immune response is not fully understood at this time because this particular coronavirus is so new. We hope the presence of antibodies provides some level of protection from re-infection, or at least lessens symptoms if you get it again. Other coronaviruses have made a person immune from re-infection, at least for a short time. For covid-19, we still need more information about whether immunity lasts a few months, a year, or even longer. Antibody testing provides hope that we will learn how to promote health, prevent infection and treat people who develop covid-19. Lastly, knowing how many people have antibodies can help understand rates of community infection and prevalence of immunity, which can help lift current restrictions and diminish the need for social distancing.
As an example of how antibody testing might help, let's suppose a patient has symptoms of covid-19. They feel sick, but then recover. After a few weeks, they have covid-19 antibody testing. Results show a high number of IgG antibodies, indicating they had infection. They get retested 6 months later, and the results show few or no antibodies to covid-19. This patient may be susceptible to contracting covid-19 again. Or, they may choose to have the covid-19 vaccine once it's developed. Alternately, if their antibody levels remain high, this may help protect them from future illness.
To better understand antibody testing, it helps to know how antibodies develop. When a person is exposed to covid-19, they may or may not develop symptoms. However, if a body has enough exposure to the virus, or is susceptible to getting sick, that person will become infected and mount an immune response. The first antibodies to form are larger, more generalized proteins, called immunoglobulin-M (IgM). They are present about 5 days after the virus infects the body. The next antibodies to form are very small (and can cross the placenta) and hang around for a longer period of time. These are called immunoglobulin-G (IgG), and they are present about 8-10 days after initial infection, with an initial peak at about 14 days. The number of IgG antibodies can continue to rise, even after you start feeling better. It isn’t yet known how long they are present in the body.
Quality of antibody tests has been a concern. Some tests have proven to be unreliable and even fraudulent. We are being vigilant in our testing research. The current laboratories we use are diligent in their quality control, and have been granted EUA (emergency use authorization). Please refer to their websites for more information:
Boston Heart Diagnostics (https://bostonheartdiagnostics.com/news/covid-19-antibody-testing-at-boston-heart-diagnostics/).
If you are interested in having antibody testing, please call our office for an appointment with either Dr. Toby or Sharon Delaney. We will conduct a brief appointment to gather information and make sure antibody testing is the appropriate test for you. You will then be directed to the laboratory best suited for you. Results are taking about a week at this time.
Sharon Delaney is a certified nurse-midwife who has expertise and a career-long focus in community health. After obtaining a Master’s in public health nursing, Sharon joined the nursing faculty at Montana State University. In addition to teaching maternal-newborn nursing, she also taught community health nursing. She and her students made home visits, conducted health fairs and prenatal classes, assisted local health departments with communicable disease outbreaks, and participated in immunization clinics.
Sharon returned to school to become a nurse-midwife. In her practice, she used her knowledge of the relationship between public health and personal health to provide holistic women’s healthcare. She brings her expertise to her current women’s health practice at Spokane Valley Holistic Healing, and is excited to offer antibody testing to the community.
This current covid-19 outbreak is an opportunity to learn how we as a community are affected by and, in turn, affect each other. Further testing, including antibody testing, will serve to educate us and hopefully help us protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the community-at-large.