Whilst we may have hobbled our way out of the worst days of the Covid-19 pandemic, education and testing around the virus is here to stay for the foreseeable future. The population must remain dialled into the latest findings on strains, vaccines and cases to better protect themselves and those around them.
The big picture way to stay educated on the subject is to keep up to date with government guidelines and advice, whilst maintaining anti-spread measures such as mask wearing and handwashing.
The more focused and individual response would be to do a T-Cell test and quantitative antibody test. These tests can be done to check two things. The first is to check if a patient had previously been infected by the virus. You can see whether the virus was in your immune system and how your body naturally responded to it.
The second is to check for a post-vaccine response. In this case, the test would be done after vaccine administration and can check if your immune system has responded to the vaccine well. By putting both these findings together, we get a good idea of your degree of immunity.
Not all antibody tests detect antibodies created post-vaccination so be careful! In addition, you might test negative for antibodies but have T-cells which provide some protection. Having both tests is a good way of fully understanding your immune response, providing valuable information to help you make decisions on vaccines and your risk of severe illness.
Harley Street Health Centre works with a laboratory to test samples taken, with a fast turnaround time. Availability of T-cell testing is limited and very few clinics offer this testing, maybe because T-cell testing has had less publicity than antibody testing in recent months.
Research and testing around Covid-19 is still very young and clinicians are learning everyday about the virus, vaccine responses and immune system differences. Harley Street’s clinicians are frequently updating their patients with advisories and updated on the latest research.
As Dr Enam Abood, the clinical lead commented, “We believe knowledge is power, especially during this pandemic. Our goal is to arm our patients with information about their health and making sure you’ve had a good immune response to the vaccine is very helpful to guide future decision-making and assessment of personal risk. We also know vaccine antibodies wane over time, perhaps over 6 months, and quantitative test in combination with a T-cell test, is a helpful tracking tool.”
Frequent reporting such as that provided by Harley Street Health Centre will be vital over the next few years. Studies show patients suffering from long haul covid will still face challenges and threats 6 months after infection.
Patients infected with COVID, following release from hospital, have been found to still suffer from related blood clots, strokes, breathing difficulties, diabetes, anxiety and memory loss, as well as heart, liver and kidney damage. There is also a worry about the long-term effects of anxiety and depression leading to problems such as suicide and overdoses.
The population must stay informed about the consequences of COVID-19 and the steps to take to avoid infection. Dr Abood commented, “Patients need a trusted healthcare partner – whether a GP they can trust or a clinic like ours, who will help them keep their head above fake news, in this era of rampant misinformation. In taking control of your health, think holistically. From nutrition to exercise, to mental health and stress management, to sleep and regular testing of markers such as diabetes risk, blood pressure and in this new era, your COVID-19 T-cell and antibody levels. COVID-19 will not likely pass in our lifetimes so we must take full control of our health through knowledge and improved lifestyle, take our vaccine when it is offered and follow advice.”