- I just took an antibody test and I was told that two kinds are tested, IgM and IgG. What is the difference?
The body’s immune system classically produces an early or immediate antibody response to defend against a viral infection (IgM) and a delayed response after the first week (IgG). However, COVID-19 viral infections break the rules, making qualitative tests not clinically useful overall.
- Does it make sense to test for the flu if I have flu-like symptoms? Or is COVID-19 testing what is recommended now?
Laboratories are currently running respiratory pathogen panels, RPP for short, which includes other viruses, including influenza A and B. This allows us to not only diagnose other viral infections, but in symptomatic cases identify causes which are not COVID-19 related. This is very useful when considering quarantine.
- I see my doctor added vitamin testing to my antibodies as well. Is this really necessary?
Both Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D levels are important for the immune system and must be maintained in the normal range. Furthermore, there is a clinical correlation between significantly diminished vitamin levels and past infection. Thankfully, these can be easily supplemented at low cost, if any.
- How much exposure to a positive case is needed to catch COVID-19? Meeting outside for 2 minutes with a mask is okay?
Any exposure to a positive COVID-19 case must be avoided at all times. Specific cases must be discussed with a physician.
- If someone is exposed, what is the incubation period/ time until the test should be taken?
The incubation period varies greatly and could even occur in the first day after exposure. In asymptomatic cases, we recommend testing on both the 3rd and 11th days of quarantine. Specific cases must be discussed with a physician.
- If one family member is exposed to a positive individual does the whole family need to quarantine?
While it's advised, it is not necessarily the case in every situation since every case is individualized. This may be considered with a spouse.
- What is that reason that COVID-19 is so contagious?
COVID-19 spreads via airborne virus in tiny sized particles (smaller than 50 microns). Normal speech can release these particles just as easily as sneezing and coughing can. The smallest particles may be suspended in the air for several hours after the perpetrator leaves.
- Do you know of any new ways to protect yourself?
It's very simple: social distancing, wearing masks, and hand washing/sanitizing. These significantly lower the risk of contracting COVID-19.
- Are masks really necessary? First we are told that masks are not effective, then that we have to wear them. Which is it?
Masks are very necessary. While they are not perfect, there is no question to their effectiveness.
- How often should I wash my hands?
It is advised to wash as often as possible with warm water and soap since COVID-19 is able to survive on surfaces for extended periods of time. It is a good idea to keep hand sanitizer in your car and the entrance of your house.
- Are asymptomatic COVID-19 cases less contagious than symptomatic ones?
COVID-19 cases are contagious whether they are symptomatic or not.
- What do you think of saliva tests?
In general it is important to get tested. Right now, the preferred method of swab-based testing is with a nasopharyngeal specimen. Other swab specimens, as is saliva, have reduced sensitivity and therefore caution should be exercised when interpreting negative results.
From the staff
of Dr. Schechter
- If one does not have insurance can they get free COVID-19 testing?
- With a valid social security number or ID (Drivers license, passport, etc) the COVID-19 nasal swab is covered through the government, namely the HSS/HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program. Doctors who are participating in this program, including Dr. Schechter, are authorized to order and consult regarding COVID-19 testing/quarantine procedures are covered with this program as well.
- Does antibody testing get covered for free through the HSS/HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program?
- Since antibody testing was not in the CARES act passed by Congress, it is not covered with this program. While those with insurance are covered, we cannot guarantee those without insurance that they will not be billed
- I work a high risk job and need testing twice a week. What frequency would my insurance pay for my COVID-19 testing?
- Through the CARES act, we currently do not have any indications that insurers have imposed frequency limits on COVID-19 testing (nasal swab only). It is important to note that while patients currently can receive multiple tests on the same day or different days, frequency limits may be added in the future.
Dr. David Schechter is board certifi ed in both Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease. He received his MD from University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1984, continued with an internship at the University of Connecticut, and a cardiovascular fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. He continued to receive a fellowship in Nuclear Cardiology at Hadassah Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, Israel and returned to NY in 2001 where he pursued private practice. He has over 35 years’ experience treating conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart failure, among others. Dr. Schechter’s offi ce can be reached at 718-316-6800 or by email at doctor @davidschechtermd.com.