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Wednesday, 15 July 2020


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At least here in New Mexico, if you give blood they throw in an anti-body test for free.

Good luck with the test Mike. My antibody test came back negative a few weeks ago but there are so many problems with it as a test it is hard to know how much weight to put on it. Just as a matter of interest, how much will it cost you? Here in the UK it was "free", though I work part-time in a hospital and I'm not sure how available it is otherwise; also of course it gets paid for through taxation.

Hi Mike,

Just be aware that COVID antibodies may not be long lasting and it may be too late for a definitive test for you now. If memory serves me correctly, they peak at one month post infection and a recent study shows they may have vanished by month 3-4.


T-cells may provide a longer lasting immune response, but as far as I know there's no simple COVID specific T-cell test.


I may be in the same boat. Both my wife and I had bizarre illnesses in late Jan/early Feb, symptoms similar to yours but much less severe. I'd like to know if I had it, if for no other reason than to know that it won't kill me.
My understanding is that the available anti-body tests may not be accurate enough, but even if they are, the absence of anti-bodies a long time after the infection (where long = undetermined at this point) may not be indicative of much. That is, it's possible that your body could still fight off a future infection, i.e., be "immune", without a high anti-body count. I'm told the body has other ways to protect itself.
In any case, my wife's doctor told her that Covid anti-body tests here in Ottawa are not widely available at the moment. So it's sit and wait, make the best of it. She's an artist, which is as solitary an activity as photography, so in that sense we're fortunate.

Note of caution from a GP (read: Family Physician) in Australia: the antibody tests almost all have a significant false positive rate. So, where the likelihood of a true positive result is low (like in your situation) a positive test result is far more likely to be false positive rather than true positive. Bottom line is you won't be able to trust the test result anyway.
Just as an aside, over here we've deliberately avoided using the antibody tests and stuck to PCR. Unpleasant to have the sample taken, and misses some cases, but reliable when positive.

[Thank you Trevor. Some others have raised this caution as well. --Mike]

If anything good comes out of the pandemic, I hope that we all acknowledge that so-called "essential" workers (teachers, health care providers, restaurant workers, construction workers, janitors, transit workers, grocery store personnel, etc, etc) deserve to be paid a fair wage for their work.

Among the many injustices visited upon us by a certain political party here in the US is the hypocrisy that a large portion of our society is essential to the functioning of that society, yet is not worthy of a living wage. We can quibble about how to define "living wage," but for me it means that if you work and live responsibly you should be able to support, feed, and house your children and over time, you should be able to save money in hopes of starting a business, buying a home, or (gasp!) being able to retire some day.

Thanks Mike for your thoughtful post on the Covid-19 situation in New York and the importance of strong political leadership. Here in Canada, the strongest leadership and most intelligent public health responses have come from British Columbia (unfortunately, not my province). On another note, I don't comment often, but I'm realizing I'm moved to comment not by photography discussions, but by your 'Open Mike', off-topic pieces. Keep up the good writing!

I had that same flu on early January and it was weeks before I felt better. My wife said it was by far the sickest she had ever seen me. I now have asthma since that flu. I know two people who had to go to Urgent Care from the Jan/Feb flu.

Larry Brilliant, the doctor that helped to defeat smallpox, was on Al Franken's (who had the same flu) podcast and said no it wasn't Covid 19. Yet I still wonder...

Yeah, I also had a weird respiratory infection too early in the winter to be Covid. It likely wasn't, but it was nasty, and ended up causing both pneumonia and a heart murmur, and made me really, really not want to get Covid.

Hi Mike,
My comment is on the Thursday addendum.
I can't figure why anyone would cancel their support for TOP for reporting something like that.
One of the greatest benefits of TOP is the knowledge and varying views the comment section always seems to bring. Even if they are polar opposite views from that of the article.

My response to "anti-maskers" is that it's not a matter of Personal Freedom in a Free Country, but it's a matter of public health. There's a reason that laws against performing certain bodily functions in the street are on the books - not about modesty, but about public health. I urge them to study up on how unsanitary streetscapes contributed to plagues.

The problems with antibody tests are many - some people don't mount a vigorous antibody response but may be immune through "cell mediated" or T-cell immunity. Antibodies can be short lived - nobody has a long term perspective on Covid. In addition, if you do a lot of tests on a low incidence population, there are more false positives than true positives (statistics were never my strong suite, but that's what they say). So, the devil is in the details, and in this case the devil is interpreting a test result where the situation and the tests themselves are rapidly changing.

So, state doesn’t elect a clown; has better COVID-19 outcomes. Call me Mr. Slow on The Uptake, but do I see a pattern emerging around the world? Except Sweden. Let’s not mention Sweden.

My wife was working as a resident physician at a community hospital at Yonkers, NY and went through its Covid-19 peak with panic and anxiety and then calmness and confidence.

It was kind of sad that you had to add that addendum (for what happened).

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