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What it's like to get an antibody test after coronavirus symptoms – Business Insider – Business Insider

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  • In March, my roommate and I both got sick — we had headaches, fatigue, coughs, and shortness of breath for two weeks. I even had “COVID toes.”
  • We figured we both had mild cases of the coronavirus, but never got tested because of testing shortages at the time.
  • I got an antibody test this week to find out whether I might now be immune to the coronavirus.
  • But my results showed that my antibody counts were under the threshold required to test positive, leaving me with even more questions.
  • Here’s what the experience was like.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When the Bay Area issued its shelter-in-place order on March 17, my three roommates and I started preparing to spend the next month together in our small apartment.

But then two of us started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms: headaches, coughs, fatigue, and shortness of breath. I even had a symptom now deemed “COVID toes” — the middle three toes on both my feet turned deep red and purple, swelling and becoming itchy. (At the time, I didn’t realize that was related to my other symptoms, however.)

I called my doctor around day seven of the illness, but she advised against coming in for a test. Because my symptoms didn’t require critical medical attention, she said, it wasn’t worth going to a medical facility to get tested, since there weren’t many available tests and I could risk more potential exposure to the virus.

My roommate and I both self-isolated, recovered at home, and felt almost back to normal about two weeks later.

But we’ve been left wondering whether the illness we had was COVID-19.

So this week, I took an antibody test, also known as a serological test, which can detect coronavirus-neutralizing antibodies in the bloodstream.

These tests promise answers for the many people like me who experienced coronavirus symptoms but were unable to confirm a diagnosis. They also offer epidemiologists a better sense of the virus’ true spread.

But I knew from my own reporting that there are plenty of reasons to be wary. For one, many companies have been offering tests that aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The one I took, from Diazyme Laboratories, Inc., was submitted for FDA authorization but hasn’t gotten it yet. In addition, one study found that 6% of recovered coronavirus patients didn’t develop antibodies at all, and younger people tended to have lower levels of antibodies than older patients. 

I opted for an antibody test anyway, however, hoping to get confirmation that I’d had the virus and am now immune. But my test came back negative, leaving me with even more questions.

Here’s what the experience was like.

I joined Business Insider as a reporting fellow in early January to cover science. In a meeting with the team on my first day, my editor said, “So, we’re getting reports about a new virus in China.”

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

The reporter, Holly Secon, at ARCpoint Lab in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


Soon, I was covering the coronavirus every day. A couple of months later, I wound up living it, too — or so I thought.

I live in the Bay Area, where the first case of community spread in the US was reported at the end of February. That news indicated that there were already hundreds, if not thousands, of cases here.

The virus’ spread seems to have started even earlier than that, however. This week, Santa Clara county — which is about an hour away from where I live — found through autopsies that two people who died in their homes on February 6 and 17 tested positive for the coronavirus. (Previously, the US’s first coronavirus death was thought to have happened on February 29.)

Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked coroners to review records and conduct autopsies back to December to look for infections.

One morning during my first week working from home, I woke up with a pounding headache, sore throat, and tight chest. Strangely, the middle three toes on both of my feet had turned purple. Something under the skin felt hot and itchy.

covid 19 compared symptoms 2x1



Shayanne Gal/Business Insider


My symptoms were relatively mild, but they were still painful and uncomfortable. 

My roommate came down with a fever and cough around the same time. Over the next week, our symptoms worsened. My roommate would get out of breath walking up the stairs, and I felt phlegm coming up out of my lungs. 

I spoke with my doctor, and she advised against coming in for a diagnostic test, due to limited test availability and the mildness of my symptoms. So I recovered at home and both felt mostly back to normal about two weeks later. It was still harder than normal to breathe for another week or two, though.

Although I missed my window for a diagnostic test, I knew a serological test could use a few drops of my blood to determine whether I have antibodies for the coronavirus.

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

The reporter’s blood sample at ARCpoint Lab in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


I asked my doctor if my healthcare provider was offering antibody tests, but they weren’t available yet. I also checked the National Institute of Health’s open clinical surveys to see if I could volunteer for any trials in my area.

But the easiest option, it turned out, was to go to a local testing franchise facility, ARCpoint Labs, and get an antibody test from Diazyme Laboratories that does not yet have FDA approval.

Only three companies and the Mount Sinai Health System have FDA emergency use authorization (EUA) for their antibody tests. Companies without it can still sell their tests to consumers, however, as long as they provide a disclaimer.

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

ARCpoint Labs in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


Over 100 companies have applied and are still going through EUA the process. Diazyme Laboratories is one of them.

But even the FDA-authorized tests can be inaccurate, according to reports from the New York Times and others. Cellex, one of the three that are officially authorized, has a false positive rate of around 5%, the Times reported. And a set of serological tests Spain used last month advertised 80% accuracy, but instead were found to be only 30% accurate, according to the Times.

This week, I drove to ARCpoint Lab’s testing facility in Martinez, California. I was the only patient there — the lab staggers appointments to maintain social distancing.

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

ARCpoint Lab in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


Once there, I had to sign a consent form indicating that I knew that the test was not FDA-authorized yet and acknowledging some disclaimers about the test’s accuracy.

The form said the results should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude SARS-CoV-2 (the scientific name of the virus).

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

A form at ARCpoint Lab in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


Several recent studies have raised questions about how often coronavirus patients develop antibodies — and whether everyone develops them to a sufficient level to confer immunity. A recent paper (a pre-print that is not yet peer-reviewed) tested recovered patients who had mild coronavirus cases to see how many antibodies they produced.

It found that patients produced differing levels of antibodies, with elderly and middle-aged people developing higher levels of antibodies on average. The researchers also discovered that 10 patients out of the 175 studied — roughly 6% —  didn’t develop any detectable antibodies at all.

Most of those without detectable levels of antibodies were younger.

I’m 24, so I figured there was a chance that I could have gotten the coronavirus but not developed antibodies to a detectable level.

The lab technician told me he’s been doing blood tests for years. ARCpoint Labs usually conducts clinical drug and paternity tests.

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

The reporter at ARCpoint Lab in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


Still, I’m not very good with needles, so I was nervous about the test.

ARCpoint Labs drew a vial of my blood, which would then get sent to an ARCPoint Labs partner lab in Florida, called Access Medical, which has the capability to process the Diazyme Laboratories antibody test.

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

The reporter at ARCpoint Lab in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


According to the Diazyme Laboratories website, its coronavirus antibody test detects two kinds of antibodies: IgM and IgG.

The test’s accuracy for negative specimens ranges, according to the company: For IgM, its sensitivity is about 90% and specificity is 98%. For IgG, its sensitivity and specificity are 96%.

Sensitivity refers to how many negatives the test catches, and specificity refers to how many samples the test says are positive that are actually negative.

So with IgM antibodies, this test catches about 90% of samples that are negative, but misses about 10%. About 2% of the negatives it gives are false. For IgG, it misses about 4% of negative samples, and 4% of its negatives are false.

These numbers haven’t been independently verified, though.

The technician told me I’d receive my results in about 48 hours. A couple days later, they came: I had tested negative.

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

The reporter at ARCpoint Lab in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


I was disappointed and confused.

I still think my roommate and I probably had the coronavirus, though it’s possible we might have gotten another illness.

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

The reporter at ARCpoint Lab in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


It’s possible that I did get COVID-19, but my immune system cleared the virus without developing many antibodies. The test could also have been inaccurate.

Even if my antibody test had come back positive, however, there would still have been questions about my immunity, since scientists aren’t sure how long the protection lasts.

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

The reporter at ARCpoint Lab in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on April 7 that people who recover from the coronavirus will likely be immune should a second wave of infection spread in the early fall. 

“Generally we know with infections like this, that at least for a reasonable period of time, you’re gonna have antibodies that are going to be protective,” he said.

But because the virus is so new, how long that period of time lasts for recovered COVID-19 patients is still unknown.

I had hoped a serology test would give me clarity about how to move forward.

antibody test california holly secon coronavirus

The reporter at ARCpoint Lab in Martinez, California, on April 20, 2020.

Katie Canales/Business Insider


A positive result would have made me feel more comfortable in public places, allowed me to pursue ways to volunteer to help others, and might even have indicated that I could donate plasma to patients with severe cases.

Instead, I was left with more questions.

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Do you have a personal experience with the coronavirus you’d like to share? Or a tip on how your town or community is handling the pandemic? Please email covidtips@businessinsider.com and tell us your story.

Get the latest coronavirus business & economic impact analysis from Business Insider Intelligence on how COVID-19 is affecting industries.

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Donald Trump Says He Is No Longer Taking Malaria Drug Hydroxychloroquine For Coronavirus – Yahoo Style

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Click here to read the full article. ” data-reactid=”19″>Click here to read the full article.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="After weeks of singing the praises of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure against the coronavirus, and saying last week that was taking the drug himself, President Donald Trump revealed in an interview on Sinclair Broadcasting on Sunday that he had “Finished, just finished,” his course of the unproven treatment. “And by the way, I’m still here…To the best of my knowledge, here I am.”” data-reactid=”20″>After weeks of singing the praises of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure against the coronavirus, and saying last week that was taking the drug himself, President Donald Trump revealed in an interview on Sinclair Broadcasting on Sunday that he had “Finished, just finished,” his course of the unproven treatment. “And by the way, I’m still here…To the best of my knowledge, here I am.”

That, on the same day the World Health Organization placed a pause in COVID-19-related testing of hydroxychloroquine after the esteemed medical journal The Lancet published a finding that, among patients with coronavirus who received the drug, the authors “estimated a higher mortality rate.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Deadline” data-reactid=”22″>More from Deadline

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Food and Drug Administration had also issued a warning of potential harmful side effects to the drug, including ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation and, in some cases, death. But Trump has still promoted it as a potential effective treatment for the virus.” data-reactid=”31″>The Food and Drug Administration had also issued a warning of potential harmful side effects to the drug, including ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation and, in some cases, death. But Trump has still promoted it as a potential effective treatment for the virus.

“I happen to be taking it…Right now,” Trump said to surprised reporters at the White House last Monday. “Yeah. Couple weeks ago I started taking it. Cause I think it is good. I have heard a lot of good stories. And if it is not good, I will tell you, alright, I am not going to get hurt by it.”

“What do you have to lose?” Trump said at the time.

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Trump says he's done taking hydroxychloroquine, unproven treatment for COVID-19 – CTV News

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TORONTO —
U.S. President Donald Trump is no longer taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, he said in an interview Sunday, after weeks of promoting it as a treatment for the novel coronavirus.

In an interview with Sinclair Broadcast’s program “Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson,” Trump said he had completed a two-week course of the drug, which has not been proven to prevent or treat COVID-19.

“Finished, just finished, yeah,” he said. “And by the way, I’m still here. To the best of my knowledge, here I am.”

A week ago, Trump revealed that he had been taking the drug himself to protect against the virus, despite his own officials cautioning that the drug should not be used outside of hospital or research settings, due to potentially fatal side effects.

His doctor did not prescribe it to him, he said. He requested it specifically.

The FDA-approved drug is used to treat malaria as well as lupus and arthritis. Trump has frequently touted it as a potential treatment in his press briefings, citing anecdotal evidence and limited studies.

In the Full Measure interview, Trump said he took the drug because two staffers in the White House had tested positive, reiterating that he had heard “tremendous reports” about the drug’s effects.

“[Hydroxychloroquine] has had tremendous, if you look at it, tremendous, rave reviews,” he said.

No rigorous, large-scale study has found the drug to be effective for treating or preventing COVID-19.

The World Health Organization announced Monday that it was temporarily dropping hydroxychloroquine from its list of experimental treatments under study. The WHO pointed to a paper published last week in the Lancet that said those taking the drug could be at a higher risk of death and heart problems. 

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No plans to open cooling centres in Waterloo Region this summer – CTV News

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WATERLOO —
It may be more difficult to find relief from the heat in public places this summer.

The Region of Waterloo says there are no plans to open any of their cooling centres for the season.

Municipalities usually open community centres, libraries, and other public buildings during heat warnings, but officials say those spots will stay closed under the COVID-19 shutdown.

“I don’t think we have any plans for setting up cooling centres,” said Mike Murray, CAO for the Region of Waterloo during a Monday media call. “I think our ongoing encouragement to people would be, if they’re outside, to maintain physical distancing and don’t congregate in groups of more than five.”

It was announced last week that splash pads and community pools will also remain closed until further notice.

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