Since the start of 2020, the world has been gripped by the spread of coronavirus, the virus responsible for causing COVID-19. Recognised in December 2019 (hence its name COVID-19), the first people to contract coronavirus were in Wuhan—the capital of China’s Hubei province. The resulting pandemic has led to over two million infections, with many countries imposing lockdown restrictions to try to limit the rate of infection and protect those who are most vulnerable to it.
Understandably, plenty of individuals are looking to buy a COVID-19 antibody testing kit online in the UK and to see whether their symptoms are (or were) caused by coronavirus. A positive test showing a current infection would indicate the need to entirely self-isolate. A positive test showing a past infection would give individuals some reassurance that they've fought off COVID-19 and have some immunity. It would also allow them to return to work quickly and care for any vulnerable friends and family that are currently shielding themselves. A negative test would caution an individual to keep following social distancing and lockdown measures—and, importantly, if they presented with any COVID-19 symptoms in the future, it would help them make an informed decision about taking a PCR test and strengthen the urgency to self-isolate.
So, what is a COVID-19 antibody testing kit, and how does it work? At Pharmacy Planet, we can answer the questions that are important to you.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is an infectious disease that is caused by ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2’ (SARS-CoV-2). Previous outbreaks involving coronavirus include SARS, which started in 2002, and MERS, which affected various countries—primarily in the Middle East—between 2012 and 2018. Coronaviruses can also cause some cases of the common cold. The virus affects both mammals and birds. In humans, it most commonly attacks the respiratory tract, including the lungs, and its severity can range from mild to fatal. Although it is often more severe in those with an underlying medical condition, it can cause severe symptoms in those who have been previously in good health. COVID-19 started in China and spread worldwide within weeks. The disease probably ‘jumped’ from another species of mammal in which the reservoir of infection was very high.
What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?
The majority of people with coronavirus experience respiratory symptoms of varying severity. Most people have a high temperature, and a dry cough is also common. Fatigue, joint or muscle aches and pains and shortness of breath are classic symptoms too. Some patients may only experience gastric symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Unfortunately, coronavirus can cause severe complications such as pneumonia, sepsis, and organ failure. The number of fatalities from this virus has officially peaked in the UK, but the death toll continues to rise. The majority of deaths occurred in patients aged over 70, although younger patients have also succumbed to the illness.
What is a COVID-19 Antibody Testing Kit?
An antibody test—such as the one to be stocked by Pharmacy Planet—identifies whether the body has mounted an immune response to coronavirus. An antibody, or immunoglobulin, is a protein that the immune system uses to destroy bacteria and viruses. When a virus enters the body, plasma cells within the immune system make specific antibodies to defend our cells and organs from the infection and, as the immune response increases, our bodies can begin to fight it off. Antibodies are also produced following vaccination; vaccination, therefore, prepares the body to fight off bacterial or viral infections before we are exposed to them. At this time there is no COVID-19 vaccine.
Who Should Consider Buying a Home COVID-19 Antibody Testing Kit?
Many people could benefit from buying a kit for home testing. The presence of coronavirus antibodies on a home testing kit would indicate that the individual is fighting coronavirus or has already had it and recovered. Although studies continue, it seems likely that someone who has already had coronavirus is unlikely to become re-infected at a later date, due to ongoing antibody immunity. This is important while we await the availability of a vaccine.
What do the Different Antibodies Mean?
A coronavirus antibody test kit would test for the presence of antibodies known as immunoglobulins (Ig). The two types of immunoglobulins tested for are IgG and IgM. Positive IgM antibodies suggest current or very recent infection with coronavirus. In contrast, IgG immunoglobulins indicate that the person has been infected at some point in the past.
Why is Testing Helpful?
Someone who buys a coronavirus antibody testing kit online in the UK can check if they have, or have had coronavirus. If they have been infected and have remained in isolation for the recommended number of days, then it seems unlikely that they will be able to spread the virus further.
Some people may have very mild symptoms of coronavirus which could be mistaken for the common cold, but later find out via antibody testing that they have developed coronavirus immunity. This verification of immunity may put some people’s mind at ease.
A widely available test could also change our everyday lives by offering same-day results from which individuals can make safe, informed decisions. NHS staff and other key workers— including supermarket staff or delivery drivers—could return to work faster if they knew they’d have already had coronavirus. People who have had coronavirus could, theoretically, return to work before the UK lockdown is lifted. This would help people get back—at least in part—to their normal lives and could begin to kickstart the UK economy once more.
Where can I Buy a Home Coronavirus Antibody Testing Kit?
At Pharmacy Planet, we understand there is a high level of health anxiety surrounding coronavirus. We aim to stock both an antibody testing kit and a rapid test to allow customers to establish whether their symptoms are caused by coronavirus. Even people who have not had symptoms— or who have had a mild cough or cold—could use a kit to confirm if they have had coronavirus.
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