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Antibody test to check if you've had coronavirus

An antibody test is a blood test to check if you’ve had coronavirus (COVID-19) before. It's not widely available yet.

Information:

An antibody test is different to the swab test to check if you have coronavirus now.

What an antibody test can tell you

An antibody test can tell you if it's likely you've had coronavirus before.

But it does not work for everyone, as some people who've had the virus do not have antibodies.

An antibody test does not tell you:

  • if you're immune to coronavirus
  • if you can or cannot spread the virus to other people

To find out if you currently have coronavirus, there's a different test to check if you have coronavirus now.

Important

If you get a positive antibody test result (you have coronavirus antibodies), you still need to follow the same social distancing advice as everyone else.

This includes staying 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people and washing your hands often.

How an antibody test works

An antibody test checks for antibodies in your blood.

Your body makes antibodies when you get an infection. They help fight the infection.

If you have coronavirus antibodies in your blood, it's likely you’ve had the virus before.

It's not known if having antibodies stops you getting the virus again.

Getting an antibody test

Free antibody testing is not widely available yet.

It's currently offered to NHS and care staff, as well as some hospital patients and care home residents.

This will help show who has had the virus and how it is spreading in the UK.

Home antibody test kits are not currently recommended, as it has not been confirmed if they're safe and reliable yet. You can pay for a test to be done at a private clinic if you want to.

Information:

Help with research into coronavirus treatments

If you've had coronavirus, you can donate blood plasma to help researchers find treatments.

NHS Blood and Transplant: donate blood plasma if you've had coronavirus

Page last reviewed: 7 August 2020
Next review due: 14 August 2020