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Fact Checked

Test Yourself At Home for COVID-19

What are COVID-19 antibody tests? How accurate are they? How to get one?
Last Update:
11 October 2021
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Fact Checked
covid test
covid test
What are COVID-19 antibody tests? How accurate are they? How to get one?
Last Update: 11 October 2021

At present, three types of tests are currently available in Hong Kong to test for infection with COVID-19. Two of them — a DNA test and a blood test — are conducted in a clinic or a hospital and then analysed in a lab.

A third alternative is an antibody or antigen test that you can do yourself from home in forms of a nasal swab test, a pharyngeal swab test or a finger prick blood test. This article will focus on Antibody Mobile Test kit and give you details on the product itself, the type of testing it provides, pros and cons as well as how it works.

COVID-19 Antibody mobile test kits can be ordered online and shipped to your home or office in Hong Kong and internationally.


What is an antibody do-it-yourself test?

An Antibody Mobile Test is carried out by a device that pricks your finger for blood to determine whether there are antibodies of the COVID-19 virus in your blood sample. Specifically, it looks for IgM antibodies, which the immune system produces early in the course of most viral infections, as well as IgG antibodies, which appear later as the disease progresses. The presence of these antibodies in the blood strongly suggests that a person has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus and developed an immune reaction to it.

Antibody Mobile Test kits are usually purchased online, delivered to your doorstep and performed from the comfort of home. Results are delivered in about 15 minutes.

Why use it?


The pros

The kits are convenient, confidential and allow users to maintain social distancing at a time when many people are reluctant to visit healthcare facilities. They are also easy-to-use, increasingly affordable and can potentially improve health care for patients in areas where access is limited.

Because they deliver on-the-spot results in minutes, they can rapidly provide clues on the next steps for diagnosis and care.

There are a few manufacturers of COVID-19 Antibody Mobile Test Kit that have obtained both CFDA and CE certification and are allowed to export out of China. As you can see from the information below, these test kits have been approved by the Department of Health in Australia and the FDA in the Philippines.

  1. List of approved test kits by the Department of Health in Australia
  2. FDA in the Philippines approves test
  3. Nature medical journal on test kits (and lists Wandfo product)

The cons

At present, no Antibody Home Test kit is accurate enough to confirm whether an individual has been exposed to the virus. Specifically, none are accurate enough at identifying people who have had the virus, a property called test sensitivity, and those who have not been infected, known as test specificity. To get a sense, while a high-quality test should achieve 99% or more in terms of sensitivity and specificity, some commercial antibody tests have recorded specificities as low as 40% early in the infection.

Also, an important unknown surrounding these tests is that scientists do not know exactly when specific antibodies develop and how long they stay in the body. As a result, the tests might miss cases if samples are taken too early, when the viral load is too low or if the person's body has not produced antibodies against the virus yet. Another big question is the extent to which being infected confers immunity to reinfection. There may also be variations between individuals.

Accuracy is also determined by sample collection. Antibody Home Tests are conducted in a less controlled environment than a lab, which can affect the performance of the kit.

For all the reasons outlined above, Antibody Home Test kits can be a helpful tool, but cannot be used as the sole basis for diagnosis. And since a positive COVID-19 antibody test indicates that there is either a recent or past infection, further testing will be required in the event of a positive result.

Looking to get further testing? Check out our guide on getting a COVID-19 test in Hong Kong.

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Antibody testing: How it Works

For those interested in further exploring this type of testing, several online providers carry CFDA and European CE-certified Antibody Home Test kits that can be delivered locally as well as in many countries worldwide.

Tests are available for your choice mainly in a few types: deep throat saliva sample test, fingertip blood test and nasal swab test.

As the procedures differ for different test types, please refer to the instructions on your test kit carefully before using it.

Antibodies can be detected as early as 3 days after infection, with slight variations between individuals. A negative result indicates no infection or infection at a very early stage or in recovery. A positive result indicates an infection with coronavirus. The overall accuracy of these tests is around 91.61% (may vary).



DISCOVER OUR TOP COVID-19 READS

1. COVID Tests in HK: Where to Go & Costs? - UPDATED (also in Chinese)

2. COVID Vaccines in HK: Options, Safety & Costs - UPDATED (also in Chinese)

3. REAL-TIME UPDATES FOR HK and 20 COUNTRIES


What COVID-19 antibody test kits are available in Hong Kong?

If you want to get a rapid test at home, COVID-19 antibody test kits are readily available for online orders and in many registered pharmacies over Hong Kong, including chains like Mannings and Watsons. Check out the list below for some certified options:



ARISTA COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Available in Mannings and Watsons)

  • Manufactured by Arista Biotech in Singapore.
  • Deep throat saliva sample test, result available within 15 minutes.
  • Effective to detect early infection virus test as early as 3 days after infection.
  • The clinical test conducted by the laboratory Health Gene Limited, which has passed the COVID-19 competency test by the Department of Health (COVID-19), confirmed that the ARISTA COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test product fully complies with EU standards.
  • Indicative price: HK$350

Dr. Freeman ANTIBODIES Test Kit (2 Test per box) (Available in Mannings and Watsons)

  • Originally made in Korea, certified by the European Union and ISO.
  • Fingertip blood test, results in 15 minutes.
  • Detection of new antibodies against IgG and IgM, accuracy up to 90%
  • Indicative price: HK$389

Indicaid® COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test (Available in Watsons)

  • Developed and manufactured in Hong Kong
  • Nasal swab test, intuitive visual results in 20 minutes.
  • Clinically validated with overall sensitivity and specificity at 96% and 99% respectively.
  • Indicative price: HK$150

OJABIO SARS-CoV-2-Antigen Test Kit (Available in Watsons)

  • Developed by Wenzhou Medical College and made in China.
  • Pharyngeal swab test, results in 15 minutes.
  • Certified by the National Otorhinolaryngology Clinical Research Centre of China with sensitivity at 98% and specificity at 99%.
  • Indicative price: HK$190

*The above information is based on research last conducted online on March 22, 2021. Please always check directly with providers/retailers for the most up-to-date information.

Important: The results from antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose an infection. Any positive result will require further investigation. Please note that the negative result also does not guarantee that you will not become infected in the future. Please seek medical advice if you have fever, respiratory symptoms, contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19 patients or traveled to high-risk epidemic regions.

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This article was independently written by Alea and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and should never be relied upon for specific advice.