18 Nov 2022

New test reveals Covid-19 history

9:26 am on 18 November 2022
Collage of Covid molecules and graph

Photo: 123rf.com / Composite Image - RNZ

A new test is now available to enable those who are curious about whether they have ever had Covid-19.

It has been launched by Rako Science, in partnership with an Auckland diagnostics company, Pictor.

University of Auckland senior lecturer and immunologist Dr Anna Brooks told Morning Report the test detected antibodies created in response to the Covid-19 vaccine or viral infection, in one go.

She said people who wanted to find out if they had been exposed to the virus could take the test.

"It's really important for our long-term health to understand if we've seen Covid-19. We're still learning about the long-term impacts.

"It's sort of empowering the individual to go and have a check, to test for that, but it's also really important in the context of Long Covid as well."

She said some people could get Long Covid from an asymptomatic infection.

"It's not a black and white test unfortunately, but if we detect the presence of antibodies against the protein inside the virus, so ... it's confirmation you've had an infection. The absence doesn't necessarily mean you didn't get infected, but the presence is going to give you certainty that you have seen infection."

The $140 test is done using a device that sticks onto the upper arm and draws blood.

Brooks said similar tests were also available at GPs for a fee, but they were not easily accessible.

As New Zealand deals with a third wave of the Omicron virus, not all cases are being counted. Wastewater testing suggested about 45 percent of all cases were being reported.

Health officials say Covid-19 case numbers appear to have plateaued but the 'complex mix' of variants could see daily cases hit 11,000 again over the summer.

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