COVID-19 Testing Basics: The Difference Between Antibody & Diagnostic Tests
With all the buzz around antibody tests and what they can do for you, it’s no surprise that people are getting confused about what they really are. Here’s a brief guide to telling the difference between antibody and diagnostic tests so that you know which one is right for you.
- What Are Antibody Tests?
Antibodies are proteins made by your immune system to fight off disease. Antibody tests check to see how many antibodies you have in your blood. These tests can help find out if you have recently been exposed to an infectious disease or if you have a disease like Covid.
There are two types of antibody tests, simple and immunoassay;
-If you have a simple test, your antibody level is made up of two parts: a negative (reaction) and a positive (stimulation). Excessively high levels of a drug can make the body require that the antibody be made again, which can sometimes be a sign of an autoimmune disease. Positive tests usually indicate antibodies from previously surveilled illnesses. The negative tests indicate you do not have antibodies, and antibody loads should be normal.
-The immunoassay is more sensitive and can detect low levels of antibodies that have recently been produced. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, a simple test can look at levels of antibodies in your bloodstream for a couple of weeks, so it’s not a permanent test. Medical News Today explains that tests usually indicate if you have an infection, a virus, an immune system response, or an autoimmune reaction.
Antibodies are the main types of antibodies your immune system produces to fight diseases.
- What Are Diagnostic Tests?
To diagnose a medical condition, doctors may perform diagnostic tests, which are also known as lab tests. A diagnostic test may be used to determine whether a patient has a disease or to identify which disease the patient has.
Diagnostic tests are also sometimes called blood tests or laboratory tests. Diagnostic tests are often used to support the patient’s emerging diagnosis, whereas antibody tests may be used to rule out that diagnosis. Antibodies can only neutralize certain types of infection. So a positive antibody test means the patient doesn’t have certain pathogens in the bloodstream, while a negative test indicates that the patient does have one of the pathogens.
The first line of defense against infection is the immune system. Certain proteins are produced by the immune system, called antibodies, to attack unwanted invaders. Very early in the morning, before most people are awake, a standard blood test is done. The doctor injects the patient with a tiny amount of a medication, known as an anesthetic into a tiny vein in their neck. Then the doctor sends these samples to a lab. All antibody tests look for specific antibodies (antigens) that have been produced as part of the immune system to respond to and attack the infection.
- What Are The Benefits Of Antibody & Diagnostic Testing?
Antibodies can be detected in the bloodstream or in tissue samples. Antibodies can also be used in the diagnosis of cancer. When anti-bodies target a specific type of invader, called a reactive cell, it’s referred to as a primary antibody. Secondary antibodies, produced in response to a new invader, are also called cross-reactive or cross-immunity antibodies. This means that each antibody is made against a different target.
Self-Testing with an Automated Blood Tests Kit can detect dozens of common autoimmune diseases. It can also detect a number of rare autoimmune disorders. Diagnostic tests use more complex technology that requires an immunologist to specifically make antibodies against a specific illness.
A doctor makes a small sample of your immune system. These samples are then sent to a lab where special antibodies are made. The doctor then gets a small sample, known as a cytokine test.
What is a cytokine? It’s a substance made by the body that causes inflammation. The immune system recognizes a positive response to a cytokine as an invader.
The last step of the process is to get detailed information about the viral load in your bloodstream. After taking a sample of blood, the sample goes into a machine called an immunoassay machine. The machine identifies the antibody made against the specified viral pathogen and then produces a colorized take on the protein. The colorized version of the protein is then compared to a database of known viruses and diseases, known as the viral load. By looking at the viral load, a doctor can determine if you have an illness that is caused by the pathogen you’re testing positive for.
- Are There Any Drawbacks To Antibody & Diagnostic Testing?
There are a few drawbacks to antibody and diagnostic testing.
-First, if you have a very rare disease, it may be difficult to find an accurate test for it. Even if a test is available, you may have to pay a lot of money for it.
-Additionally, medications can affect your results. You may have problems interpreting the results if they come out incorrectly. We’re currently in an era when people learn something new every day. New vaccines and medications are continually coming out.
-In addition, tests take longer to undergo standardization, and there are still great differences across the board for test results.
- Which Tests Should You Use When?
There are several tests you can use to find out what kind of content your audience wants to see.
The two main types of tests you can run are A/B tests and multivariate tests.
-A/B tests are where you show different versions of the same message to different users to see which performs better. Backtesting is a great example of this, where you can test two versions of a design to see which one performs better. You can do this by running a poll to see how many people would choose an A/B test given another choice.
-Multivariate tests are like a/b tests in theory but not in execution. Instead of showing different versions of the same message to users, you can test one version on different qualities and see which one performs the best in those particular cases. One of the best-known multivariate tests involves the composition of a landing page.
APIs are one of the most popular ways of making tests using different projections and inputs from the data you have at your disposal. This is because using these types of tests means you can test a ton of different things at the same time and you don’t need to feed the results into any of the separate A/B tests. APIs are great when you want to see what different words or phrases do to drive different outcomes.
This kind of test provides you with a ton of detailed data and allows you to compare a wide variety of results in one experiment. So get tested today and stay safe!