Don’t you want to know?

Testing for COVID 19 is being discussed regularly in the news, and rightly so. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) is recommending testing dependent on the severity of your symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath), your vulnerabilities (other illnesses you may have including being immune-compromised as well as age), your job and the vulnerabilities of others around you.

But what does the testing actually tell us?

COVID-19 is the illness from a specific coronavirus. It is known to be a respiratory illness.

The actual virus is called SARS-CoV-2. Yes, like that SARS, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome present in China in the early 2000s, a similar virus.

A virus is actually an infectious agent that reproduces within cells of an organism (people). When it is not borrowing a cell to replicate it’s in the form of an independent particle or virion. A virion is made of genetic material, DNA and RNA, a protein covering, a capsid, and an outside envelop of lipids. The DNA/RNA is the blueprint to make proteins with which the virus acts. It kind of looks like the picture.

The current tests for the COVID-19 virus (or SARS-CoV-2) are actually detecting the presence of the RNA of the virus itself (the technique is called RT-PCR reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction). Using a swab deep into your nasal passages the actual virus is transferred to the swab and then can be identified by the test. It is catching it in the act!

But what if you had the virus and your illness has progressed? The virus has moved on and if you swab inside the nose you won’t find it anymore. Our immune system, unless you are immune-compromised, has begun to take over the fight and makes antibodies to the virus. These antibodies are IgG and IgM. These are immunoglobulins that appear 7 days after the onset of symptoms. If you have antibodies you were exposed to the virus. Whether or not the antibodies stay several weeks, months or years and provide immunity is yet to be determined for this virus.

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Dr. Laurie Goldman is a medical doctor, psychiatrist, and functional medicine practitioner who’s been in private practice since 1999. She founded Clear Path Wellness to help her patients reach their maximum state of mental and physical health using a personalized, comprehensive approach powered by the principles of functional medicine, which treats the whole person, not just symptoms.   

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BlogTesting to determine diagnosis or immunity: COVID 19