As a result of publishing pieces about my coronavirus experiences, from being tested in Finland in early October to having Covid-19 in Brazil in late October/early November 2020, I have received some questions and comments from the readers.
I have also pointed out that the most commonly used test required for travel, PCR-RT, may yield positive parts of virus RNA weeks or even months after you are no longer contagious and recovered, complicating travel or returning to your home country.
My October test in Oulu (~250 Euros):
I returned to Finland for the first time in 10 or so months and wanted to make sure that I do not have Covid-19 before meeting family members.
My Covid-19 experience in Brazil:
I made the mistake of not getting tested due to a public holiday but instead just quarantined at a hotel for more than a week after the symptoms were gone.
My surprise positive tests:
Here where it becomes confusing:
On my way to Finland from South America in late December, I decided to test in Paris (I had an overnight transit) and again in Helsinki on arrival on December 17.
These tests were free and received surprising results (positive) less than 24 hours later (both tests had excellent turnaround times). I had no symptoms of any kind.
As a precaution, I ended up not meeting anyone in Finland (I did one interview after 14 days had passed from these positive tests on December 31) before leaving the country on January 1.
To my surprise, a contact tracer from France tried to reach me (I was having a nap), but nobody from Finland did when they should have.
Antibody Test In Mexico
I decided to conduct a blood-based antibody test in Mexico and the results came back in less than two hours.
I was positive for antibodies IgG that first appear 7 to 10 days after the symptoms begin and remain in your blood for some time (it is unclear for how long) after you have recovered, and negative for IgM that appears when you first get hit with the Covid-19.
I’ll probably need to do another PCR-RT test next month to continue my journey from Mexico to other parts of Latin America. However, some countries accept a positive PCR-RT test with a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 90 days old to enter.
My point here is that even if you have had Covid-19, it may take some time before these PCR-RT tests start returning negative results.
It may have economic significance to some who may get test positive in places such as the Maldives or French Polynesia (island states) and cannot leave their expensive resort before PCR-RT tests start showing negative, at worst weeks or months later.
I genuinely hope that this Covid-19 pandemic is over by 2022, and we could return to some level of normalcy.