Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Experience Having COVID-19

 
COVID-19 under the microscope. 3d illustration. Photo by shutterstock.com

In case anyone’s curious about one COVID-19 experience: Two friends, my wife, and I went to London the second week of March on a long-planned vacation. Did the whole tourist thing, but tried to be safe by washing hands, Purelling, etc. We came home on separate flights on March 14. and immediately went into self-quarantine.

All four of us eventually got sick. Our medical friends in the group got tested. After a week, the results came pack COVID-positive. So we got tested – the mouth swab. I had a fever for 12 days (no fun, I can tell you, but it never got too high), felt cruddy, but I work from home and so was able to get most of my work done. Naps every day. Never had the breathing problems, thankfully.

One friend’s experience was much more serious — she has asthma, a pre-existing condition, and was knocked flat on her back for five days. Her husband’s experience was not quite so bad. My wife never had much of a fever, and never felt as bad, but hers seems to be stretching out — she still was tired yesterday, even though we’ve been back three weeks now. Three of us are cured now, and my wife is, almost.

Some logistical problems developed with our tests, so after 10 days (on a “two-day test”) with no results and lots of frustration, the testing place said, “We now have the 15-minute tests, let’s just re-run you.” So we finally tested, positive, yesterday.

I’ve been fever-free, feeling great for four days now, so I’m cured, immune, what have you. Because the situation is moving so fast, there are no exceptions for folks like me in the stay-home rules. I should be able to visit a lonely nursing home, etc., but there’s no provision for that. We want to donate plasma, but the Red Cross, in its caution, may want to wait until we’ve been asymptomatic 14 days. Fair enough.

And then there’s the matter of — how do I prove I’m free of the disease? The 15-minute finger-prick antibody test just shows that I have had the illness and have developed some level of antibodies to it. I might need a separate test (or even two) to demonstrate I’m really no longer a threat, and indeed can even be an asset.

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  1. EB Thatcher
    EB

    FridayNightEcon: how do I PROVE I’m free of the disease?

    Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana has addressed that issue. He had added to the virus bill a provision for the CDC to set up a testing database (like the existing one that keeps records of children’s immunizations) so that people can be tested for antibodies, showing that they are now “immune.” Obviously, that is slightly less a priority than taking care of the sick people right now. However, that will enable people in the (hopefully) near future and beyond to verify immunity and start letting Americans go back to work.

    • #1
    • April 5, 2020, at 6:39 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  2. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Bill Cassidy on Immunity Registries

    https://www.siriusxm.com/clips/clip/a9914a41-78d6-4402-8150-b8f14a44945b/a83a1b76-09f1-49a6-9680-4b1d755c7b6e

    • #2
    • April 5, 2020, at 6:44 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. EODmom Coolidge

    I think the idea of proving one is immune is appalling. Substitute any other illness or disease for this virus and consider the implications. 

    • #3
    • April 5, 2020, at 6:52 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. EB Thatcher
    EB

    EODmom (View Comment):
    I think the idea of proving one is immune is appalling. Substitute any other illness or disease for this virus and consider the implications. 

    I disagree. A communicable illness is different than a non-communicable one. We already prove that children have been immunized. This started in the 90’s. I think many people would like to be able to prove they are immune and could go back to work.

    There is no smallpox scar to show, so testing can do the same thing.

    • #4
    • April 5, 2020, at 7:27 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  5. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I don’t understand:

    If I test negative, then I either haven’t contracted it yet, or I am immune. Is this right? Possibly some are naturally immune, or are now immune from having had it without realizing it.

    I may have had it – I was walking around with a persistent “cold” all through February. It never got too bad, and I was glad. I catch a “cold” once or twice a year, and I just ride it out. I rode this one out, insert shoulder-shrug.

    Maybe it was just a cold of some kind, maybe it was the virus – how could I tell now? If I get tested and it’s negative, how can I tell if I’m immune now? Maybe that was a cold, and I simply haven’t been exposed yet.

    I did not have a fever, or any serious chest-tightening. But are we sure those are necessary indicators? I thought some could have it but be asymptomatic – can’t some have it and be “partially-symptomatic”?

    Do I have to happen to be tested during the exact window when I have contracted it, but not after I’ve recovered and am now immune? That two or four week period?

    This all seems impossibly vague to me. We are told not to go be tested if we have no symptoms. But if we aren’t tested, isn’t some large percentage of the population – maybe even most people – going to get it and get over it without ever knowing? (Or never get it because they are naturally immune?) Isn’t it possible that right now most of us might be walking around at absolutely no risk to anyone? How can they tell, how will they ever be able to tell?

    Other than purposefully infecting me with it and seeing if I get it, I can’t see how it could be determined that I am immune.

    But then again I’m just a working stiff, not a genius politician.

    • #5
    • April 5, 2020, at 8:38 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. FridayNightEcon Member
    FridayNightEcon

    EODmom (View Comment):

    I think the idea of proving one is immune is appalling. Substitute any other illness or disease for this virus and consider the implications.

    It is certainly an unprecedented step. However, no other illness or disease in our lifetime has caused a nationwide lockdown like this. How can we intelligently do BOTH of these, as fast as we can:

    1. Maintain the “distance” between those who might have the illness and those who don’t, to the maximum practicable level (until we’re well over the hump), and
    2. Allow those who can no longer be a problem and can’t contribute to the problem to re-enter “normal” activities

    It seems that the registry would allow us to do that. Sure, put in all necessary caveats to protect privacy – but we already have that in place for all our kids’ immunization records. This would be along the exact same lines.

    • #6
    • April 5, 2020, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. FridayNightEcon Member
    FridayNightEcon

    EB (View Comment):

    Bill Cassidy on Immunity Registries

    https://www.siriusxm.com/clips/clip/a9914a41-78d6-4402-8150-b8f14a44945b/a83a1b76-09f1-49a6-9680-4b1d755c7b6e

    EB, thanks very much for that! Cassidy clearly gets it, and has thought this through. Very encouraging for us in the “newly immune” category – and it should give hope to everyone else, too.

    • #7
    • April 5, 2020, at 9:09 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. FridayNightEcon Member
    FridayNightEcon

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    I don’t understand:

    If I test negative, then I either haven’t contracted it yet, or I am immune. Is this right? Possibly some are naturally immune, or are now immune from having had it without realizing it.

    Here’s my understanding: yes, if you test negative now using the (nose & throat) swab test tests, you either haven’t had it, or are both immune and past the point of being able to infect others – it just tests whether you are currently a carrier. The (brand new) finger-prick, 15-minute antibody tests test whether you have developed antibodies, and don’t really say whether you are currently a carrier. I’ve had both, but the swab test lab has had reagent problems, so I don’t know if I’ll ever get those results.

    But just yesterday I had the antibody test. In an ideal world, anybody who thinks they might have had any real chance of having a case of COVID would be tested with THIS test. Indications are that anyone who has developed the antibodies should be immune for some considerable period of time – obviously, nobody knows exactly how long for this particular new virus. I would think this test would be able to give you important results even if you’ve been well for quite some time, but A) I’m no expert, and B) the test is brand new.

    • #8
    • April 5, 2020, at 9:17 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  9. EODmom Coolidge

    FridayNightEcon (View Comment):

    EODmom (View Comment):

    I think the idea of proving one is immune is appalling. Substitute any other illness or disease for this virus and consider the implications.

    It is certainly an unprecedented step. However, no other illness or disease in our lifetime has caused a nationwide lockdown like this. How can we intelligently do BOTH of these, as fast as we can:

    1. Maintain the “distance” between those who might have the illness and those who don’t, to the maximum practicable level (until we’re well over the hump), and
    2. Allow those who can no longer be a problem and can’t contribute to the problem to re-enter “normal” activities

    It seems that the registry would allow us to do that. Sure, put in all necessary caveats to protect privacy – but we already have that in place for all our kids’ immunization records. This would be along the exact same lines.

    I don’t accept that the nationwide lockdown was the appropriate response to this virus. As I said – consider any other highly communicable disease in the same light and the actual experience of this virus as compared to the projections, do the necessary differentiation of those affected and then argue that such a “registry”is appropriate and a compelling justification for the abridgment of rights.

    • #9
    • April 5, 2020, at 9:44 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):
    Other than purposefully infecting me with it and seeing if I get it, I can’t see how it could be determined that I am immune.

    Not testing for the virus – testing for virus anti-bodies. The presence of anti-bodies shows that you have had it or been exposed enough to fight it.

    • #10
    • April 5, 2020, at 9:44 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  11. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):
    This all seems impossibly vague to me. We are told not to go be tested if we have no symptoms.

    We’re still short on test materials so testing sick people with suspected COVID-19 is still prioritized over widescale testing for comprehensive data collection such as South Korea has been doing.

    But if we aren’t tested, isn’t some large percentage of the population – maybe even most people – going to get it and get over it without ever knowing?

    Yes. Antibody testing will give a reasonable idea about this… in the future.

    Update: The future is now!

    The CDC has started conducting antibody tests to help determine how many people have been infected with the coronavirus — including those who never developed symptoms, an agency spokesperson confirmed.

    The test analyzes antibodies in a person’s blood to detect if they have been exposed to the coronavirus. identifying people who have recovered from infection and likely have some degree of protection from reinfection is a possible key to opening back up the country’s workforce.

    The testing will focus on surveying three different groups, STAT and The New York Times first reported. The first phase has already begun to identify people who weren’t diagnosed with the infection in Covid-19 hot spots.

    The other two surveys will test people from other areas around the country, and certain groups — including health care workers — to see how the virus has spread among them.

    The FDA granted its first emergency use authorization for an antibody blood test on Wednesday. The agency said then that “it is reasonable to believe” the test, made by Cellex, may effectively diagnose Covid-19 cases, and that its potential benefits outweigh the risks.

    Typically, devices applying for premarket approval are required to show evidence reasonably assuring they’re “safe and effective.”

    • #11
    • April 5, 2020, at 9:54 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  12. FridayNightEcon Member
    FridayNightEcon

    EODmom (View Comment):

    I don’t accept that the nationwide lockdown was the appropriate response to this virus. As I said – consider any other highly communicable disease in the same light and the actual experience of this virus as compared to the projections, do the necessary differentiation of those affected and then argue that such a “registry”is appropriate and a compelling justification for the abridgment of rights.

    @EODmom – I’m not saying whether nationwide lockdown was right or wrong, but for the time being it’s a fact of life. We’d ALL like to be out of it. If the Post-COVID registry helps alleviate it over time, and helps track how the nation is doing on fighting this communicable illness, then it should shorten the lockdown’s duration.

    • #12
    • April 5, 2020, at 9:55 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  13. FridayNightEcon Member
    FridayNightEcon

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    The FDA granted its first emergency use authorization for an antibody blood test on Wednesday. The agency said then that “it is reasonable to believe” the test, made by Cellex, may effectively diagnose Covid-19 cases, and that its potential benefits outweigh the risks.

    This is the test we took yesterday, or its kissing cousin. I think the current wisdom is, if it says “positive”, your body has definitely been fighting COVID-19 (or something almost the same?); if it says “negative” you may want to get tested again. Ours were positive, so pretty straightforward.

    • #13
    • April 5, 2020, at 11:08 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. KirkianWanderer Coolidge

    I’m so sorry that you fell ill, but did you enjoy at least get to the city? I live in England, and I brought two American friends from high school around London (and Paris, because I was the only French speaker of the group) for two weeks last summer and they loved it. Personally, I still can’t decide if I like Paris or London more. Fear of that happening is actually what convinced my parents to have me stay in the UK (we had had a few cases on campus, but they were concerned that I was much more likely to be exposed on the train to the airport or at Gatwick/Heathrow/Logan itself, especially since so many Americans on the Continent escaped that way).

    • #14
    • April 5, 2020, at 11:54 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. FridayNightEcon Member
    FridayNightEcon

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    I’m so sorry that you fell ill, but did you enjoy at least get to the city?

    Oh, we had a marvelous week in London. My favorite city on earth. Paris is great, too, but I was pickpocketed TWICE on the metro there a couple years ago (once successfully, once I warded off), so have a bad taste.

    We did all the lovely touristy things there (among the last to do so for a while), British Museum, St. Paul’s, the Underground, Victoria and Albert museum, Churchill War Rooms, Florence Nightingale & Soane museums, and rekindled great old memories. We didn’t get sick til we came back.

    • #15
    • April 5, 2020, at 2:11 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  16. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    FridayNightEcon (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    I’m so sorry that you fell ill, but did you enjoy at least get to the city?

    Oh, we had a marvelous week in London. My favorite city on earth. Paris is great, too, but I was pickpocketed TWICE on the metro there a couple years ago (once successfully, once I warded off), so have a bad taste.

    We did all the lovely touristy things there (among the last to do so for a while), British Museum, St. Paul’s, the Underground, Victoria and Albert museum, Churchill War Rooms, Florence Nightingale & Soane museums, and rekindled great old memories. We didn’t get sick til we came back.

    I was supposed to be going to London and Paris with my 13-year-old son in early March (Arriving in London March 18th), but flights started getting cancelled about a week before we were to leave.

    Still waiting for my refund from British Air. And hoping to find the sweet spot to rebook for this summer – get over there while things are still cheap, but after major destinations have opened up again.

    • #16
    • April 5, 2020, at 2:25 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. FridayNightEcon Member
    FridayNightEcon

    … and we just got a call from the “two-day” swab test taken 11 days ago. We’re positive, of course.

    Hopefully this means they’re breaking the backlog.

    • #17
    • April 5, 2020, at 2:47 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    We’re still short on test materials so testing sick people with suspected COVID-19 is still prioritized over widescale testing for comprehensive data collection such as South Korea has been doing.

    Please forgive my ignorance. I understand the rationale for testing after the fact for antibodies/immunity. I understand the rationale for testing acute cases that need hospitalization so the medical personnel know what they are dealing with. I can even understand the rationale for testing those with mild and/or atypical symptoms to identify folks who definitely need to stay home. But I honestly don’t get testing people who are sick at home, feeling crappy but not in immediate danger or in need of medical attention. What is gained by using scarce test materials on these folks? They should stay home, monitor their symptoms, and convalesce as @fridaynightecon and his wife did. Why test in these situations?

    • #18
    • April 5, 2020, at 3:15 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Southern Pessimist Member

    The best initial use for the finger prick antibody study that I can think of is this: Immediately test every ER worker in every hospital in the country. That will give you the “worst case scenario” for disease penetrance across the nation and greatly inform any decision to reopen commerce. The data will be skewed by differences in use of protective gear and perhaps by use of hydroxycloroquine for prophylaxis but that also can generate great observational data.

    • #19
    • April 5, 2020, at 4:16 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  20. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    We’re still short on test materials so testing sick people with suspected COVID-19 is still prioritized over widescale testing for comprehensive data collection such as South Korea has been doing.

    Please forgive my ignorance. I understand the rationale for testing after the fact for antibodies/immunity. I understand the rationale for testing acute cases that need hospitalization so the medical personnel know what they are dealing with. I can even understand the rationale for testing those with mild and/or atypical symptoms to identify folks who definitely need to stay home. But I honestly don’t get testing people who are sick at home, feeling crappy but not in immediate danger or in need of medical attention. What is gained by using scarce test materials on these folks? They should stay home, monitor their symptoms, and convalesce as @fridaynightecon and his wife did. Why test in these situations?

    With scarcity of testing kits, that’s exactly what’s being done. People are being told that their symptoms suggest disease and that they should self-quarantine for 14 days and call back (or go to the ER) if things turn south. Emergency room, in-patients who develop symptoms (or who were admitted acutely from the ER without being tested), and medical staff are prioritized. My lab gets those patients and we can accommodate about 225-250/day, using a real-time PCR test that takes about two hours. Another molecular lab on our system campus can do a similar number with a slower PCR method (I think the same one–or similar to the one–originally done by the CDC). Anything else gets sent to a reference lab and, as described above, it takes a while to get the results (8-11 days, I’ve been seeing). So, triage. We’re actually capable of doing close to 1000 tests a day with the 2 hour test, but we are limited by access to reagents; the company can only make the product so fast and the higher risk locations get priority. Our governor shut things down early and, so far, it appears successfully. We’ll know more in a couple of weeks whether the trend holds. For now, we’re not seen as high risk and the test components are being sent to places that have higher need.

    • #20
    • April 5, 2020, at 4:32 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  21. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Caryn (View Comment):

     

    Thanks, @caryn. Very useful and clarifying.

     

    • #21
    • April 5, 2020, at 4:39 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Lois Lane Coolidge

    I don’t know which course of action is right or wrong, and I understand that getting this thing is not pleasant, but if you have a registry of some sort that allows some people to go to work while others have to stay at home, you will definitely have a perverse incentive for many to get infected on purpose. Whatever the consequences for them on an individual level.

    Regardless, I am glad you and your friends are on the mend!

    • #22
    • April 5, 2020, at 5:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Rodin Member

    All three of us in our household had a flu-like illness in January. From the descriptions I have read if it was COVID-19 it had to be an extremely mild case. But I would love to have access to an antibody test to confirm.

    • #23
    • April 5, 2020, at 5:48 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  24. Old Bathos Moderator

    My daughter has mild chest pains and a cough. Got tested on Thursday and was told it will be a week or more (!?) for the results. (The company that has a near-monopoly on clinical lab testing around here is backed up, apparent.) Her symptoms match two other young women in the larger neighborhood who also tested positive with very mild symptoms.

    She is already fine. We have been joking that we kinda hope her test is positive because we would all prefer a low-dose exposure for a shot at good old asymptomatic immunity. Once the antibody test is available I could then be certified by the Ministry of Health and have my papers reflect eligibility to re-enter the economic sectors and freedom to travel and restored as a party member…

    • #24
    • April 5, 2020, at 6:27 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  25. FridayNightEcon Member
    FridayNightEcon

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Please forgive my ignorance. I understand the rationale for testing after the fact for antibodies/immunity. I understand the rationale for testing acute cases that need hospitalization so the medical personnel know what they are dealing with. I can even understand the rationale for testing those with mild and/or atypical symptoms to identify folks who definitely need to stay home. But I honestly don’t get testing people who are sick at home, feeling crappy but not in immediate danger or in need of medical attention. What is gained by using scarce test materials on these folks? They should stay home, monitor their symptoms, and convalesce as @fridaynightecon and his wife did. Why test in these situations?

    It’s a good question, @Charlotte. The symptoms of this can be confused with other illnesses, so they want to gain clarity on its spread. Do they need that, in the immediate sense, to make someone well who is staying at home, as we did? No. But we did want to know in case it was something ELSE (unlikely, I know).

    But it is important for the political folks to know the extent of the illness so that they can make wise decisions about how draconian to make the lockdown. There’s just no way to do that without much more extensive testing, both of the swab (“Are you currently ill and contagious?”) and antibody (“Were you ill at some point in the past, and now your body has developed some level of immunity?”) types.

    • #25
    • April 5, 2020, at 6:29 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  26. FridayNightEcon Member
    FridayNightEcon

    Rodin (View Comment):

    All three of us in our household had a flu-like illness in January. From the descriptions I have read if it was COVID-19 it had to be an extremely mild case. But I would love to have access to an antibody test to confirm.

    It’s on its way -it’s in suburban GA now.

    I’m really curious to hear what happens when lots of folks of the “I felt a little bad in January or February” category get tested with the antibody test, and we find out it was either more widespread earlier on, or it really just blossomed lately.

    • #26
    • April 5, 2020, at 6:33 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  27. Cato Rand Coolidge

    I’m just delighted to hear all four of you are recovered/recovering. The relentless news of the most serious cases has lead us all to think of Covid-19 as a death sentence. It’s helpful to remember that, serious as it is, most people will recover. Good health to you all sir.

    • #27
    • April 5, 2020, at 7:51 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  28. D12 Coolidge
    D12

    FridayNightEcon (View Comment):

    EODmom (View Comment):

    I think the idea of proving one is immune is appalling. Substitute any other illness or disease for this virus and consider the implications.

    It is certainly an unprecedented step. However, no other illness or disease in our lifetime has caused a nationwide lockdown like this.

    Correction: the disease did not cause the lockdown. Panicky press, “experts” who love the sound of their own voice, and politicians eager to “do something” caused the lockdown. 

    • #28
    • April 5, 2020, at 10:06 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  29. thelonious Member

    FridayNightEcon (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    All three of us in our household had a flu-like illness in January. From the descriptions I have read if it was COVID-19 it had to be an extremely mild case. But I would love to have access to an antibody test to confirm.

    It’s on its way -it’s in suburban GA now.

    I’m really curious to hear what happens when lots of folks of the “I felt a little bad in January or February” category get tested with the antibody test, and we find out it was either more widespread earlier on, or it really just blossomed lately.

    I had pneumonia and the flu in early March. Since I hadn’t been out of the country in the last 30 days my doctor didn’t suspect I had Covid 19. I don’t think they even had tests for it then. It seems possible to me based on this virus being around longer than we realize that I maybe had it. I think I’ll investigate getting an anti-body test. 

    • #29
    • April 6, 2020, at 12:43 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  30. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    did you or your wife or friends take hydroxychloroquine?

    wait 5 days to take the antibody test again, is this the one from Cellex?

    I think initial reports is a lot of false negatives, i.e. you are immune but the test says otherwise

     

    • #30
    • April 6, 2020, at 1:56 AM PDT
    • 2 likes