“It felt like I was dying.”

Caroline Goldstein
August 06, 2020
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Alyssa Milano, Instagram

Alyssa Milano revealed that she tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) antibodies despite having previously taken three tests for the virus—two swab tests and one fingerprick test for antibodies—and testing negative for all of them.

In an Instagram post, the actor wrote that she’d fallen ill in March and experienced “basically every covid symptom,” alongside a photo of herself wearing an oxygen mask taken in early April.

“Everything hurt. Loss of smell. It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t keep food in me. I lost 9 pounds in 2 weeks. I was confused. Low grade fever. And the headaches were horrible,” she wrote.

“I thought I was dying. It felt like I was dying,” Milano added.

Her symptoms led her to take those three separate COVID-19 tests at the end of March, but the results incorrectly revealed that she was clear of the virus. 

Even though the intensity of her symptoms ultimately faded, Milano said that she has still been experiencing “lingering symptoms like vertigo, stomach abnormalities, irregular periods, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, zero short term memory, and general malaise” over the past four months. That’s when she decided to take another antibody test, this time as a blood draw, not a finger prick. That test revealed that she was positive for COVID-19 antibodies, which means that she did, in fact, contract coronavirus. 

Both swab testing for an active COVID-19 infection and blood tests that test for the presence of antibodies (meaning the patient was previously infected with the virus and has since recovered) have been fairly rife with inaccuracies. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, as many as one in five swab tests may yield false negatives. And in May, the FDA reported that some manufacturers voluntarily withdrew their antibody tests due to concerns over inaccurate results.

“I just want you to be aware that our testing system is flawed and we don’t know the real numbers,” Milano wrote. And for anyone out there suffering from serious (and potentially fatal) cognitive dissonance around this global pandemic, she confirmed: “This illness is not a hoax.”

Milano added that she’ll be donating her plasma toward vaccine research and development (following in the footsteps of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, who did the same after recovering from the virus). She also implored people to take proper precautions to protect themselves and others from the virus that has killed over 700,000 people worldwide.  

“Please wash your hands and wear a mask and social distance,” she wrote. “I don’t want anyone to feel the way I felt. Be well. I love you all (well, maybe not the trolls. Just the kind people).” 

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, HelloGiggles is committed to providing accurate and helpful coverage to our readers. As such, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, we encourage you to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments, and visit our coronavirus hub.