Overview of topics
CoviD Antibody Test
COVID-19 & SARS-CoV-2
SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) is a newly emerged type of respiratory coronavirus. COVID-19 (COronaVirus Disease 2019) is the name given to the infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can infect humans and other animals, such as birds and mammals. The consequences of an infection can vary for different coronaviruses. Although most infections caused by human coronaviruses are mild, such as those caused by the “common cold” viruses (e.g. hCoV-229E, OC43, NL63, and HKU1), two of them were responsible for epidemics with fatal outcomes: the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
How can one get COVID-19?
SARS-CoV2 spreads from person to person through direct contact. One infected person will, on average, infect between two to three other people, if no protective measures are in place, such as keeping a physical distance of at least 1 meter.
The virus is mainly transmitted via small droplets, formed through sneezing, coughing, or when people interact with each other for some time in close proximity (usually less than 1 meter apart). These droplets can be inhaled or can land on surfaces that others come into contact with and are then getting infected when they touch their nose, mouth, or eyes.
When can a person infect others?
The incubation period is the time of exposure to COVID-19 to the moment when the symptoms begin. It can take 5-6 days on average but ranges from 1-14 days.
You can become infectious even before your first symptoms appear, however, it seems that one is most infectious when having symptoms even if symptoms are mild and non-specific. It is hard to tell for how many days one is infectious, as it varies greatly between individuals, but it is usually up to 14 days.
This is why people who have been exposed to the virus are advised to stay at home, isolated from others, for 14 days, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Various symptoms are associated with COVID-19 and so far no distinct symptoms can distinguish an infection with COVID-19 from other infections. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough and fatigue, followed by the loss of smell and taste (anosmia). More severe COVID‐19 disease symptoms include shortness of breath, confusion, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, and high temperature (above 38 °C/100.4 °F). Symptoms such as headaches, a sore throat, a runny/congested nose, diarrhea, and pain—especially muscle aches—are less common, but may affect some patients.
What types of COVID-19 tests exist?
Tests for COVID-19 can be divided into diagnostic tests and serological (antibody) tests.
Diagnostic tests confirm whether or not you have an active, current COVID-19 infection, by directly detecting SARS-CoV-2 virus in a swab taken from your nose or throat.
The most commonly used diagnostic test at the moment is the molecular, PCR test, where genetic material of the virus is detected. These tests are regarded as the most accurate and sensitive ones.
Antigen tests are another type of diagnostic test that is emerging at the moment. These tests are also used to confirm whether or not you have an active, current COVID-19 infection, by directly detecting proteins of SARS-CoV-2 virus in a swab taken from your nose or throat.
Compared to PCR tests, antigen tests are less accurate and sensitive, however, their advantage lies in the speed and no need for expensive laboratory equipment.
Serological tests, popularly known as antibody tests, are performed on a blood sample, either a drop of blood from a finger-prick or a venous blood draw. As their name says, antibody tests detect the presence of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which are made by our immune system during contact with the virus. In other words, antibody tests, such as the IgG antibody test, show the likelihood of previous exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which could have happened recently, or in the remote past. This test alone cannot be used to diagnose a current COVID-19 infection, however, in some portions of patients that are negative on a PCR diagnostic test, but have been having symptoms suggesting COVID-19, antibody tests can help the diagnosis.
Experts worldwide continue to research and gain knowledge about antibody-mediated immunity against SARS-CoV-2, and there are strong indications that antibodies indeed can provide protection against reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 virus, so called immunity. Knowing your immune status will present an invaluable piece of knowledge in the months to come, as it could influence COVID-19 management in the community. At the moment, independently of IgG antibody status, it is important to continue with social distancing and practice proper hygiene, following your local regulations.
Why is antibody testing, such as that with the Bloom COVID-19 Test, important?
On an individual level, antibody testing is important to show a previous exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which could have happened recently, or in the remote past. This is especially important in those that are asymptomatic but may have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.
On a population level, antibody tests are an important and useful tool to determine the extent of an outbreak and the real prevalence of the COVID-19 disease in the population.
If strong indications that antibodies indeed can provide protection against reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 virus, so called immunity, become a fact, knowing your immune status will present an invaluable piece of knowledge in the months to come, as it could influence COVID-19 management in the community.
Bloom COVID-19 Test
How does the Bloom COVID-19 Test work?
The Bloom COVID-19 Test consists of a sample window, a conjugation pad with colloidal gold-coated SARS-CoV-2 antigens and colloidal gold-coated control antigens, a test line with anti-human IgG antibodies, and a control line with anti-control antigen antibodies. When a drop of blood and the buffer are applied to the strip, the mixture flows along the test strip. If the individual has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and has developed antibodies against the virus, the IgG antibodies will bind to the SARS-CoV-2 antigens present in the conjugate pad. These immune complexes are then captured by the anti-human IgG antibodies in the test line, creating a colored line detected by the Bloom Lab. The control immune complexes are captured by the control antibodies in the control line. The control line is detected by the Bloom Lab to verify whether the test has run correctly. The results are available on the Bloom App in a detailed and personalized Bloom Report.
Why do we say that our Bloom COVID-19 Test is a smart test?
We say that our Bloom COVID-19 Test is a smart test, because when coupled with the Bloom Lab, Bloom App and Bloom Analytics, besides getting your IgG antibody test results, you also get a personalized result interpretation and detailed Bloom Report. The Bloom Report is based on your past and recent medical history and current healthcare guidelines on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.
The Bloom System is also smart since it provides digital data and an objective read-out of test results - independent of the human eye and human interpretation of a test line where experience and simple things like lightning conditions can alter the interpretation of a result.
If I tested positive for COVID-19 on a PCR test, why would I get the Bloom COVID-19 Test?
Bloom COVID-19 Test is an antibody test that tells you if your immune system has developed IgG antibodies in the response to being infected with SARS-CoV-2, and in your case, being positive for COVID-19 on a PCR test. IgG antibodies in general can provide immunity to viral infections, and protect you from future infections. Even though at this time research has not undoubtedly shown that IgG antibodies produce immunity to COVID-19 or how long they will persist in the body, ongoing research is looking to answer these questions.
Independent of your test result (IgG positive or IgG negative) it is important to continue social distancing and practice proper hygiene, following your local regulations, since at the moment it is still not certain that having IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 means that you’re immune to a subsequent infection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Furthermore, you could have picked up viral particles somewhere in e.g. public transport and carry them on your hands, face, other areas of the body, and clothes. Even if you theoretically cannot get reinfected this can then increase the risk of infection to others.
My Bloom COVID-19 Test was IgG positive, what does that mean?
A positive IgG result on a Bloom COVID-19 Test means that you have IgG antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in your blood, essentially showing that your immune system came into contact with the virus causing COVID-19.
My Bloom COVID-19 Test was IgG negative, what does that mean?
A negative IgG result on a Bloom COVID-19 Test means that you do not have IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus in your blood.
What are the causes of iron deficiency?
Your body can’t produce iron by itself, instead it needs to obtain iron from the foods you eat and the supplements you take. Iron deficiency can result from a diet low in iron, reduced iron absorption (like in case of celiac disease), and blood loss. Having heavy menstrual bleedings is a common cause for iron deficiency in premenopausal women. Other causes are pregnancy, delivery and frequent blood donation.
What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency is a condition during which your body’s iron stores are low or depleted. A severe form of iron deficiency is called iron deficiency anaemia during which your body will have difficulty making red blood cells and ultimately transporting oxygen. The symptoms are often similar and include:
- Reduced exercise capacity
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Craving of unusual things like ice, dirt or starch
However, some people don’t show any symptoms.
How can iron deficiency be detected?
When iron deficiency is suspected, healthcare professionals often perform a specific blood panel, called iron studies. This blood panel measures your iron, ferritin, transferrin and transferrin saturation levels. From there, iron deficiency can be confirmed when ferritin levels are low.
In some situations, however, ferritin levels do not reflect iron stores - think about inflammation and infection. As a result your ferritin levels may look normal, even though you are iron deficient. If that is the case, your healthcare professional will perform an additional test that measures your transferrin saturation levels. If the results come out low, then iron deficiency can be confirmed.
What are the symptoms of iron overload?
Iron overload could be a result of various medical issues/events such as:
- Haemochromatosis, a rare genetic condition in which the body absorbs too much iron from food
- Frequent blood transfusions
- Liver disease
Symptoms of iron overload include:
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abnormal bronze or gray skin color
- Loss of sex drive
Some people don’t show any symptoms.
How can an iron overload be detected?
Healthcare professionals often use medical and family history, a physical exam, and routine blood tests to diagnose hemochromatosis or other conditions that could cause the same symptoms or complications. The blood test measures ferritin and saturated transferrin levels. If the results are unclear, other tests could be ordered - like genetic tests.
Experts recommend testing for hemochromatosis in people who have symptoms, complications, or a family history of the disease.
Who is particularly affected by iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency affects a large proportion of the population, especially women of reproductive age (15-49), pregnant women, children, but also groups like vegetarians/vegans, athletes, frequent blood donors, and people with gastrointestinal diseases such as celiac disease (gluten intolerant).
How can I prevent iron deficiency?
This depends on the underlying cause of your iron deficiency. Please consult your healthcare professional to know which preventive measure fits best to your situation.
If iron deficiency results from a diet low in iron, it might be helpful to know which foods are rich in iron. In general, iron from animal sources is easier to absorb by the body than from plant sources. Some of the best animal sources include liver (chicken, pork, beef), liver pate, eggs, octopus, mussels and oysters. Plant sources that are rich in iron are seaweeds, cereals, dried fruits, lentils, beans and chickpeas.
Also note that Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron. Rich sources of Vitamin C are fruits, juices, potatoes, cauliflowers and cabbage.
What is the right iron supply if I am vegetarian or vegan?
Iron absorption depends on the source of iron. Vegetarian/vegans can benefit from iron rich plant based foods such as:
- Dried fruits
- Beans (kidney beans, lima beans, soybeans)
What is also important to know is that the absorption of iron from foods and supplements is improved with the help of Vitamin C. Foods with high Vitamin C content are fruits, juices, potatoes, cauliflower and cabbage.
What do vegetarians/vegans have to pay attention to in their diet?
Some foods can inhibit the absorption of iron from foods and supplements, think about milk and milk products, coffee, cacao, grains, nuts and seeds. Maybe it would be better to avoid combining these sources with iron rich foods when you want to increase iron levels.
The Bloom System
What is the value of the Bloom Lab?
The Bloom Lab analyzes the Bloom Test strips in a few minutes, giving quantitative results. In combination with the Bloom App it generates a personalized Bloom Report for you.
(Remark: The Bloom COVID-19 Test is an exception: in this instance, the Bloom System provides a qualitative test result - yes or no to the question of antibody presence). The Bloom Lab utilizes an image recognition system which allows the device to identify what the human eye would likely miss.
Which software versions are compatible with the Bloom System?
Currently, we support the versions iOS 13.5 onwards and Android 6.0 onwards.
Testing flow Instructions
Can I charge my smartphone while I am taking a test?
Yes, however, you are not able to start a new test if you have less than 30% battery.
How can I pair my Bloom Lab with the Bloom App?
Tap on “Connect Bloom Lab” and then hold your device near the light ring of the Bloom Lab.
How can I manually pair my Bloom Lab with the Bloom App if the automatic connection keeps failing?
Tap on “Pair manually” and enter the Bloom Lab serial number (six characters), which can be found on the bottom of the Bloom Lab (see image below). For more instructions, go to the Bluetooth section in the FAQs.
How can I register my Bloom Test package in the Bloom App?
In the app, tap on “Register Bloom test”, open your test package, and hold your phone near the upper flap of the test package.
How can I manually register my Bloom Test package in the Bloom App?
Tap on “Register manually” and enter the Bloom Test package serial number (12 characters), which can be found on the back of the Bloom Test package (see image below).
Can I walk away while the Bloom Lab is still measuring?
To receive a result you have to keep your smartphone within the Bluetooth connection range of about max. 3-5 meters.
Do I have to answer all questions within a given time?
No. Take your time to read the questions and answers carefully. Your report will be created once you’ve finished answering all questions and the Bloom Lab has finished the measurement.
What happens if the internet connection is lost while I’m answering the questions?
It will not have an impact on your results. You can generate your report later in the “Reports” tab. Your pending report will appear there and you can generate it again at a later point.
When can I remove the Bloom Test Strip from the Bloom Lab?
You can safely remove the Bloom Test Strip once your report has been generated and is shown in the Bloom App.
Can a test strip be reused?
No. Every test strip is for single use only.
Can I reuse any of the package contents for a new test?
No, because all of the components are intended for single use. Every test kit includes everything you need to perform one test.
How can I update my Bloom Lab to the latest version?
You can update your Bloom Lab firmware to the latest version via your Bloom App Settings > Update your Bloom Lab.
My Bloom App stated that I have to update the Bloom Lab to the latest version. Is this mandatory?
Yes, you cannot proceed without updating the Bloom Lab. This is to make sure you have the latest firmware installed.
How long does it take to update the Bloom Lab?
It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to update your Bloom Lab to the latest firmware version.
Does the phone need to be close to the lab during the update of the Lab?
It is advised to keep the phone close to the app to get a seamless experience. However, the phone can reconnect to the lab if the Bluetooth connection is broken.
What happens when I get a phone call whilst I am executing the test?
You can receive or reject the call and proceed with the test.
Can multiple users use the same device for taking a test?
Yes, but everyone should create their own account, because the reports are personalized and incorporate data such as your age, gender, etc.
What can I do if I forget my password?
We do not store your password and are therefore unable to reset it. Unfortunately, this means that if you forget your password you will no longer be able to access your account.
How can I reach out to the support team in case I’ve got any problems/feedback?
You can reach out to our support team via the Bloom App: Settings > Got feedback? or Settings > Report a problem.
Where can I find your terms and conditions and data policy?
You can find our terms and conditions and data policy in your Bloom App Settings.
How can I change my preferred unit system from Metric to Imperial (US) or vice versa?
You can change your preferred unit system via the Bloom App: Settings > Account Settings > Unit System.
How can I change my Bloom App language?
You can change your Bloom App language via Settings > Account Settings > Language.
Where can I find the current version of the Bloom App?
You can find the current version of the Bloom App in the Bloom App Settings.
How can I export my user data?
You can export your report data via the Bloom App: Settings > Account Settings > Privacy Settings > Export my data.
How can I log out of the app?
You can log out in the Bloom App: Settings > Log out.
What happens if I delete the Bloom App?
All tests that have not yet been completed will be discarded and cannot be recovered. Your user account and completed Bloom Reports will not be affected by deleting your app.
How can I delete my user account?
You can delete your account via the Bloom App: Settings > Account Settings > Privacy Settings > Delete my account. Note: This action cannot be undone and we cannot recover your data once your account has been deleted.
How long will you store my reports?
We will securely store your reports unless you decide to delete them via the Bloom App.
How can I delete a report?
You can delete a report by going to the “Reports” tab and swiping left on a report. Next, you’ll have to confirm the report deletion.
Attention: Once a report has been deleted, it cannot be recovered.
Will I lose my previous reports if I switch to a new phone?
No, your reports will be synchronized across devices.
Will I lose any reports if I update the Bloom App to the latest version?
No, your reports will not be lost if you update to the latest Bloom App version.
What can I do if the Bluetooth connection is lost or cannot be established?
○ Check if the Bloom Lab is ready for establishing a connection (the LED ring is illuminated with a dimmed, but stable ring of white light). If not, the Bloom Lab may be booting up or another user is connected to Lab currently. Once the boot-up process is finished or the other user completed their measurement, the Bloom Lab will be ready for you to connect.
○ Ensure that your smartphone’s Bluetooth is enabled and ready to pair.
○ Go to the Bluetooth settings of your smartphone and click on “forget” the Bloom Lab. Then, re-establish the connection.
○ Ensure that you have at least 30% battery life left on your smartphone.
○ Bring your smartphone close to the Bloom Lab and re-establish the Bluetooth connection.
I am unable to log in to my account. What can I do?
Please make sure you’ve entered the correct credentials. Please refer to the FAQ: What can I do if I forget my password?
Starting a new testing flow
Why can’t I take a new test?
To start a new testing flow, please make sure your smartphone has at least 30% battery, Bluetooth is enabled, the smartphone is connected to the internet, and that the Bloom Lab is powered on.
I inserted the Bloom Test strip into the Bloom Lab, but the Bloom Lab does not seem to be able to read my test strip. What can I do?
Try to reinsert your test strip gently again.
I’ve received an error message saying that I’ve inserted a different strip than the one I’ve registered before.
Please make sure that the test strip you’ve inserted belongs to the test package.
What can I do if the Bloom Lab shows an error (illuminated red ring)?
If the ring is blinking in red please follow the steps on the screen of the smartphone. If the ring is illuminated in a steady red light, please contact Bloom Diagnostics Customer Success at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I keep receiving the error: "The Bloom Lab is not idle." What can I do?
Please restart the Bloom Lab.
How can I change an administrator of a Bloom Lab?
To reset the Bloom Lab, please press the reset button on the bottom of the Bloom Lab for more than 5 seconds. After resetting the device, the first Bloom App to be connected to it is defined as the administrator device.