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Antigen vs. Antibody COVID-19 Tests: What Is the Difference?

COVID-19 Antigen & Antibody Testing

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second (and possibly third) year, tests have become one of the most important tools for determining if a person has the virus and therefore limiting the spread of infection.

Currently, there are two main types of tests on the market that individuals can use to test for the coronavirus and its various variants: antigen and antibody tests. Both are effective at providing clarity on infection but are different in their own unique ways.

If you aren’t educated in the sciences, this can confuse which test is right for you. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold and variants continue to emerge, individuals who fear they may have come into contact with those who are exposed are looking for the best way to find out.

Let’s take a closer look at both types of tests, and consider which may be best for you to take depending on your particular needs.

What is an Antibody Test?

An antibody test looks for the presence of a specific disease-causing organism by detecting antigens on the surface of cells or in body fluid.

For example, an antibody test for COVID-19 would involve taking saliva or nasal swab and looking for coronavirus proteins using advanced imaging systems to determine if you have been exposed to COVID-19.

In addition, antibody tests can also be used in the early detection of pathogens – by using the body’s immune response against a pathogen as a “signature,” it is possible to diagnose the infection before the patient begins exhibiting signs and/or symptoms of illness. In other words, an antigen test will tell you if you have been exposed to COVID-19, but it cannot tell you if you are currently ill with the virus.

When Should I Take an Antibody Test?

Antibody tests are most useful when you are trying to determine if you have been exposed to a specific pathogen but cannot tell much about your current health status.

COVID-19 Antigen & Antibody Tests

What is an Antigen Test?

An antigen test looks for antibodies (proteins produced by the body’s immune system to fight pathogens) in the blood, saliva, or urine.

If you are infected with COVID-19, an antigen test will detect the coronavirus. 

For example, an antigens test for COVID-19 would involve taking saliva or nasal swab, then adding it to your blood sample. If you are infected with the coronavirus, antibodies in your blood will react with the antigens on the coronavirus proteins in your saliva, causing them to clump together.

When Should I Take an Antibody Test?


Antigen tests are useful for medical professionals looking to determine if you have COVID.

If you are worried about your health status and need to find out as soon as possible, an antigen test is the best way to go. 

The coronavirus has a short incubation period (the time between infection and the beginning of signs and symptoms), so it’s possible to be exposed but not yet showing any signs and symptoms. If you test negative on an antigen test but still feel like you may have been exposed, an antibody test could help provide some clarity.

Can Either Test Identify Virus Variants?




Right now, one of the biggest concerns for individuals who fear they may have been infected with COVID-19 is whether or not they have one of the many variants of the virus.

As of this writing, neither type of test currently identifies specific virus subtypes or variants, such as the COVID-19 variants lambda, delta, or mu.

However, antigen tests may be able to detect an earlier onset of symptoms than antibody tests can. If you are showing early symptoms of coronavirus infection, you may want to ask your doctor if an antigen test is right for you.

Choosing the Right COVID-19 Test for You

So, which test is right for you? The answer may depend on your current situation.

If you have a high risk of infection and want to be able to detect early symptoms, an antigen test may be the best choice.

However, if you don’t think that your odds of becoming infected are all that great, or if you just want to know whether or not you were exposed in the past, an antibody test may be a better way to go.

Another thing you might want to consider is whether or not your insurance will cover the test.

Though quickly delivering a diagnosis is one of the most important steps in treating an infection, this won’t do much good if you can’t afford it. Talk with your doctor about the best type of test for you.

How to Find an Antigen or Antibody Test

Are you in need of an antigen or antibody test? There are several places you can go for these tests, depending on your current situation.

First, if the doctor’s office is where you feel most at home, schedule an appointment to talk with them about your health concerns. Ask them which type of test might be best for you!

If waiting in line at the doctor’s office isn’t your style, you can find approved antigen and antibody tests online. AnyPlace MD is proud to offer high-quality, proven antibody and antigen tests that can help you know quickly if you are infected with COVID-19:

Healgen Antigen Tests

The Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test is an in-vitro immunochromatographic assay for the qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2 in direct nasopharyngeal (NP) swab specimens directly from individuals who are suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider.

This test is intended to aid in the rapid diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infections. The Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test does not differentiate between SARS-CoV and SARS-Cov-2.

Healgen COVID-19 Antibody Test

The COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid Test Cassette (Whole Blood/Serum/Plasma) is authorized to detect IgG and IgM antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in human serum, plasma (EDTA, lithium heparin, and sodium citrate), or venous whole blood.

This test detects human SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG generated as part of the human adaptive immune response to the COVID-19 virus and is to be performed only by using human serum, plasma, or venipuncture whole blood specimens.

Learn More with AnyPlace MD

Want to learn more and order your own antibody or antigen test today? At AnyPlace MD, we have been providing affordable testing products for COVID-19 infection for months, and we strive to provide the public & laboratories with the top-notch testing options they need to feel confident and calm in their daily lives.

Our team also provides one of the leading COVID-19/Flu combination tests that can help you prepare for cold and flu season with confidence.

We want to help you get peace of mind by quickly diagnosing COVID-19 infection. Check out our website today and learn how AnyPlace MD helps our communities.

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E. Randy Eckert, MD
Medical Director

Need Bio

Brenda Thompson,
Vice President of Human Resources

With over 20 years of Human Resource and Operations experience, Brenda brings her expertise and specialized skill set to Dental Health Management Solutions, AnyPlace MD and AnyPlace Audiology.  Her successful career includes working as an Executive Director in senior living communities and advancing her Human Resources career to Vice President of Human Resources. Brenda has a specific style and approach to balance risk-management and employee satisfaction.

Shane Stevens - AnyPlace MD- COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Solutions

Shane Stevens

Throughout my career, I have served and volunteered with several organizations including serving as an advisory board member for Concordia University Texas, an annual participant and supporter of Hounds for Heroes, the Special Olympics, and many others. I have also served as a deacon at the Austin Baptist Church since 2009. Shane earned a BS in Long-Term Health Care Administration from Texas State University in San Marcos.