The difference between antibody and antigen tests for the coronavirus: Who should get them and what do they do?

“Pathogens can be seen directly in specimens from the patient, often using a microscope, or grown in the laboratory over a period of days to weeks,” Stephen Berger, founder of the Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Network, said.

“In most viral infections, specific antibodies can be detected for months to years following infection — and in many cases well into old age,” says Berger.