Avera Gettysburg Hospital lab is now offering antibody testing for COVID-19, a direct-to-consumer blood test. The test is also available through other Avera QuickLab locations and various clinics.
The antibody tests – also known as IgG or serology tests — may detect whether someone has been exposed to COVID-19. Antibodies are proteins in the blood that the body’s immune system uses to fight viruses and bacteria. It’s important to note that the antibody test is not a test for active COVID-19 infection, which is done via a nasal swab.
If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, this is not the appropriate test to see if you have the virus. This test will not show if someone currently has COVID-19.
Antibodies show up in the blood of someone who has already recovered from COVID-19, or in someone who has been exposed to the virus in the past but never developed symptoms.
Testing for antibodies is new and its usefulness is still being evaluated. It is not known yet whether having antibodies means a person is immune to COVID-19.
Direct-to-consumer COVID-19 antibody tests are not covered by health insurance, however, these tests are reimbursable through flexible spending accounts (FSA) or health savings accounts (HSA). The fee for the test is payable at the time of the test with a credit or debit card.
The antibody test involves a quick blood draw performed by a trained professional. Results take up to 24 hours to appear in the patient’s AveraChart electronic medical record, and also will be mailed out within a few days.
There are three possible results:
• Reactive (positive): suggests but does not confirm the person might have been exposed to COVID-19 and has developed an immune response.
• Equivocal: test shows a small amount of antibodies, but not enough for a “reactive” result.
• Non-reactive (negative): test shows no exposure.
It was also stated that before having this test, people should understand that a ‘reactive’ or positive result does not mean a person definitely has immunity to COVID-19 and will not become ill with the virus. If you are having possible symptoms of COVID-19, this test is not recommended.
Instead, call the local Avera Gettysburg clinic for directions on what to do. Symptoms include fever over 100 degrees, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea or vomiting, loss of sense of taste or smell, and sore throat.
People are advised to continue to protect themselves and others. Wear a mask when out in public, maintain a 6-foot distance from others in public, avoid crowds, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands often.