Understanding your coronavirus test results
Once the lab has received your sample, you should get your results within 1-2 days, which you will receive in your patient account.
Positive test results
If you test positive for coronavirus antibodies, it means that you have been previously infected with the virus, and have some immunity, or that you have built up an immune response from a vaccination. This test is unable to distinguish between the two.
We do not know how long any immunity lasts or how strong it is, and you might be able to carry the virus and pass it on. Due to this, you must still follow the rules of social distancing to make sure you don’t spread the virus to vulnerable people or catch it again.
Does a negative result mean I've not had coronavirus?
If you’ve not had typical Covid-19 symptoms before, then a negative result probably means you’ve not been infected. But, if you think you have previously had typical COVID-19 symptoms but have a negative antibody result, it may be that you have not had a sufficient immune response to it, or your antibody levels have dropped since your infection. It’s impossible to say who these people are without testing for antibodies. There is some evidence to suggest that antibody levels in some people may drop to undetectable levels some time after infection, but other parts of the immune system stay active. These B cells and T cells might provide some level of immunity, but we don't have tests for them yet, and we don't know what level of immunity they might provide. There are other tests which are being developed that might give a better indication of past infection, but these are in a research phase. Once they become available, we’ll let you know.
If you develop symptoms after taking your test, you should self-isolate. If you’re feeling very unwell or are concerned about your symptoms, you should contact your GP or call NHS 111.
Do I still need to follow social distancing if I test positive for antibodies?
You must still follow the rules of social distancing as we do not know how well our antibodies work against fighting another coronavirus infection. You may be able to fight it to some extent, but we can’t be sure. We also do not know how long your immunity will last. So until we do, you must continue social distancing, especially because even if you have immunity, you may still be able to spread the virus.
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