Update: Some commenters expressed doubts about the accuracy of taking one antibody test. The CDC says that if you take an antibody test with a 90% sensitivity rate and 95% specificity rate, the positive result will be just 48.6% accurate at a 5% prevalence. So I took a 2nd antibody test last week which also confirmed the positive result. The CDC says that with 2 positive results on a typical test the predictive value jumps to 94.5%.
However the tests I took are better than typical though, which means those numbers will be even higher.
The first test I took was the Abbott Architect SARS-CoV-2 IgG, which has a 100% sensitivity rate and 99.6% specificity rate, for a predictive value of 92.9% at 5% prevalence. The second test I took was the Roche Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2, which has a 100% sensitivity rate and 99.8% specificity rate, which has a positive predictive value of 96.5% at 5% prevalence. Combined, the odds that I had COVID-19 are just about certain.
Originally posted on 6/7:
In early January I booked a flight on Cathay Pacific from JFK to Vancouver in first class for one final hurrah before they discontinued the best flight within North America. Thanks to my free EXP status from Hyatt, American even opened up saver first class saver award space between Cleveland and NYC on the same award ticket, which left me rather impressed.
I wound up cancelling the flight (free, thanks to the EXP status as free North America flight changes wouldn’t start until March) and looked for a replacement trip.
I had attended the KWFE Miami in 2018 and KWFE LA in 2019, so I figured it would be fun to round out the trio by going to KWFE NYC in 2020.
A friend and I flew to NYC on February 17th and took an Uber to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Ohel in Queens to daven shacharis. It was the 22nd of Shvat and the Ohel was packed with women from around the globe for the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka’s yahrtzeit. We took an Uber to Crown Heights for some delicious Izzy’s Fried Chicken, checked into a suite at The Plaza using my free lifetime Fairmont Platinum nights in a suite, and went to the Kosher Wine and Food Event for the bulk of the day. And we stopped off at an after-party in Le Marais before retiring for the night and flying home the next day (but not before picking up dinner to go from Noi Due on the way to the airport).
View this post on Instagram
This is what happens when i come back home from 1 night in NYC on a Fairmont free night stay in a $1200 suite at The Plaza: Free 21 year old single malt scotch with Fairmont annual dining credit, lovely toiletries and slippers from the plaza, free mini single malt scotch from United, free beer and chips from Priority Pass credit #barsymon, dinner for tonight from @noiduecafe, leftovers from @izzysfriedchicken, Chocolate Kokush from @gombosbakery. #foodcoma #kosher #food #theplaza #nyc #yum
KWFE is always a fun event with lots of great wine and food. I interviewed United executives there about their new kosher food and wine offerings to Tel Aviv, (which reminds me that I typed up, but never posted that interview after the craziness that followed, should I post it now?), shmoozed with people from Italy, shook hands and took literally hundreds of selfies with DansDeals fans, and left with quite a buzz.
In mid-February nobody was talking about COVID-19 in the US or even in Italy yet. It would be more than 3 weeks before Italy’s national lockdown and before flights from Europe to the US would be curtailed.
The next week I was battling a fever that peaked at nearly 103 degrees. I was achy, had the chills, and couldn’t sleep, but thank G-d never had respiratory issues. The fever lasted for 3 days, considerably longer than I’ve been sick for before.
The friend I traveled with got sick the next week as well. Another DDF member I chatted with at the event got sick the next week as well.
It was still February and the doctors I spoke to all thought I had the flu or a cold and highly doubted it was COVID-19. But regardless, there was no way to get tested and find out at that point in time. Had the CDC not bungled the early tests, contact tracing and testing may have slowed the spread in the US.
In mid-March I developed yet another fever. This time the fever was just 101.4, but it seemed really strange for me to get a fever twice in 2 weeks. That’s never happened to me before. Some of my friends were convinced that my COVID-19 anxiety had willed the fever into existence.
But by this time, COVID-19 tests were available, so I went to the Cleveland Clinic drive-through testing site. They were already full for the day, so they said to come back early the next morning.
Cars lined up for COVID-19 testing:
I was seen about 40 minutes after they opened and was advised to sit on my hands as the test would be uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure they were swabbing until it came back with brain matter, but at least I’d have answers.
The results came back the next day and my 2nd fever was gone. Negative for the flu, negative for COVID-19.
We stayed home religiously for months after that, with groceries delivered to our door. Nobody else in my family got sick and I didn’t get sick again.
While my Google Maps timeline typically has trips around the world, the world would get a whole lot smaller:
But I always wondered if I picked up COVID-19 on that early trip to NYC. I never did lose my sense of smell or taste, but my friend who traveled with me lost those for months. So when the FDA granted emergency use authorization for antibody tests I got a prescription for one and had my blood drawn.
I took the test at Quest and got back the results in less than 24 hours. Sure enough, I tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
My wife took a COVID-19 PCR and antibody test when she gave birth and both came back negative. Nobody else around me got sick, other than the friend who flew to NYC with me. There are lots of DDF reports of just one spouse having a positive antibody tests, which certainly seems to support the super-spreader theory that 5-10% of people infect 80% of the population. I never had a cough or sneeze, so perhaps I wasn’t spreading the virus or perhaps my viral load wasn’t high enough to spread it.
It’s hard to say what it all means at this point.
Is the antibody test I took accurate? Seemingly so according to FDA data, but it’s also possible that it’s wrong.
Is it possible to get infected again? Seemingly I should be immune for some period of time.
The real question is how long that immunity will last. Antibodies for other coronaviruses only provide immunity for about a year. DDF member biobook points out that the study also found that people who got sick again after their antibodies stopped providing immunity had a similar reaction the 2nd time around. People with initial mild reactions had a mild reaction the next time, while people with severe reactions had a severe reaction the next time. The study also found that genetics play a big part of how people reacted to the coronavirus.
Of course COVID-19 doesn’t need to play by the same rules of other coronaviruses, so the jury is still out. There’s simply no real way of knowing just how long COVID-19 antibodies will last. But here’s hoping that a vaccine is rapidly developed and it provides long-term immunity.
While NYC got slammed with COVID-19 cases, Cleveland has not. There are no plasma donation drives here.
And while people point to Purim on March 10th for spreading COVID-19 in NYC’s Jewish community, seemingly it was spreading for many weeks before then. I could have gotten infected anywhere, but the most plausible time and place I could have gotten it was in NYC on February 17th.
One NYC based DDFer figures that he picked up COVID-19 in Italy at the end of January or in the UK in February.
Of course that also means that COVID-19 was silently spreading for weeks before exploding. That makes sense as it takes time for the cases to keep doubling before everyone realizes something is wrong. Perhaps today we would catch it earlier in the cycle if there were to be a 2nd wave thanks to testing being available, but without robust contact tracing it still may be hard to control.
But for now, I’m still mostly grounded at home with my family. Our kids are still virtually attending school via Zoom and nobody knows what the fall will bring. I daven at an outdoor minyan with a mask on. We had a bris without the multiple sets of living grandparents, may they live to 120 in good health, as they can’t fly due to COVID-19. I don’t have any short-term travel plans and will set a record for consecutive days since I got married that I was not on a plane, though I’d consider flying down the line. With countries like Israel giving quarantine exemptions with positive antibody tests, I might be able to go to places that I wouldn’t be able to if I hadn’t been infected, but those policies will be figured out over the coming months.
It’s probably easier for me to pinpoint when and where I got infected than for most people, but if you had COVID-19, when and where do you think you got infected? What were your symptoms and how long did they last for? You can also take this antibody poll on DDF.