For most of us who were sick with a virus in March or April of 2020, it was all but impossible to get tested to see if the illness was Covid-19. Despite the claim by the former President that anyone who wanted a test could get a test, the reality was quite a different story.
In the Northeast, specifically New York and New Jersey, there were a very limited amount of tests available and to get them people were waiting in lines in their cars sometimes overnight, only to be turned away when the limited amount of tests ran out. Further, those of us who were sick with fever and other symptoms were not inclined to wait in a car overnight, especially considering at the time there was no treatment available even if the test was positive.
The bottom line is that many people who were sick in March/April 2020 still do not know if they had Covid-19 or some other virus.
Let me state that I am not a researcher or scientist. I’m just a layman who was very sick in April of 2020 who would like to know if it was Covid-19 that made me ill. Most of the symptoms were present…high fever, extreme chills, headache and so on. This all coming at a time when the regular flu season has mostly passed and coronavirus was running rampant in New Jersey and New York. By the way, even as of April 2021…New Jersey still remains the leader in Covid-19 deaths per capita…even surpassing New York. That’s how prevalent Covid was in NJ and NY at the time. In fact, most of the cases were in Central Jersey, North Jersey, Manhattan and the surrounding areas that make up the New York Metro Area. Covid was highly concentrated in this area.
Of course testing for Covid-19 antibodies became increasingly available as the months went by, but apparently antibody testing is not a foolproof method for determining whether of not someone had a prior Covid infection. Additionally, the antibodies tend to disappear as the months go by, so if you were sick over 6 months ago, chance are the antibody test will not tell you much. And, if you were sick a year ago, the chance the antibody test will give you an accurate answer seems very slim.
But, a study published in November 2020 by the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium and Public Health England indicated; “ that a robust cellular memory against the virus persists for at least for six months.” See here https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4257 In other words, testing for T-Cell response will give us an indication of prior infection for substantially longer than antibody tests.
And… “The study found that virus specific T cells were detectable in all donors at six months.”
Charles Bangham, chair of immunology at Imperial College London, said, “This excellent study provides strong evidence that T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 may last longer than antibody immunity.” He added, “These results provide reassurance that, although the titre of antibody to SARS-CoV-2 can fall below detectable levels within a few months of infection, a degree of immunity to the virus may be maintained. However, the critical question remains: do these persistent T cells provide efficient protection against re-infection?”
Now There Is A Test To Detect a T Cell Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2
‘The T-Detect’ Test From Adaptive Technologies
For those who were sick and not able to be tested to confirm infection, the current options for determining whether or not you had a past Covid infection are done by either an ‘antibody’ test or a “T-Cell’ test. Antibodies from Covid are believed to disappear quickly… some say about 6 months after an infection. But a T-Cell response lasts longer, maybe much longer…. maybe even years.
On March 05 2021 the FDA issued a Press Release indicating they issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Adaptive Technologies for their ‘T-Detect’ Covid test to determine recent or prior infections. The FDA stated in its’ March 05 2021 Press Release that “The test analyzes DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequences from T cells (white blood cells) to aid in identifying individuals with an adaptive T cell immune response to SARS-CoV-2, indicating recent or previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. A positive test result indicates recent or prior infection with SARS-CoV-2, while a negative test result indicates that a patient is unlikely to have been infected with SARS-CoV-2. Negative results do not preclude acute or current SARS-CoV-2 infection. All results from the test should be used in combination with a clinical examination, patient medical history and other findings. The T-Detect COVID Test should not be used to diagnose current SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
The ‘T-Detect’ test costs $150 plus $9 for the prescription plus an additional fee for the blood draw. The company has an arrangement with Lab Corp for the blood draw and the cost is $60. There is also an option to have an in-home blood draw, which costs $140.
In one study, The T-Cell test detected a positive result in 95% of people who had Covid five + months earlier, while the antibody test was positive in only 52% to 71% of the people. So, the suggestion is that the T-Cell test will show a positive for prior infections for a much longer time than the antibody test.
Since the idea of a T-Cell test seems to be more accurate and will show detectable past Covid infections for longer periods of time, it makes more sense than antibody tests. While other companies will likely be developing other T-cell tests for Covid, at the present time ‘T-Detect’ has the field all to itself.