Antibody testing is now available at Baptist Health
Antibody blood testing (also known as serology or immune response testing) is one way to answer the question, "Did I already have COVID-19?" You may be wondering if that sickness you had earlier this year was COVID-19. Maybe you traveled and later found it was a hot spot. Or you just wonder if it's possible you caught the virus and never had any symptoms. Knowing the answer is an important piece of information as we enter the next phase of the pandemic – for you and for public health authorities.
While there is still a lot of research being conducted about whether or not having antibodies means you are immune from getting COVID-19 again, getting an antibody test now will arm you with valuable knowledge about your own health.
You can have a COVID-19 antibody test at any Baptist Health Urgent Care and Urgent Care Express location. Results are available within 3 days. Here’s how it works:
- Book in advance at any of our Baptist Health Urgent Care and Urgent Care Express locations by using our Save My Spot online reservation option (find list of locations at BaptistHealth.net/UrgentCare); no advanced prescription is required.
- Upon arrival, one of our clinicians will ask you a few questions about your health and possible exposure.
- A technician will draw a small amount of blood.
- We’ll send it to the laboratory to be tested on the FDA authorized Abbott's ARCHITECT platform.
- The test looks for the IgG antibody to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Results are generally available within 72 hours. Our clinicians will call or email you with results and are available to explain what the results mean and how to apply the information you learn from the test.
An antibody test tells you if you have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, even if you only developed mild symptoms or were asymptomatic. Knowing this answer is an important piece of information as we enter the next phase of the pandemic.
Someone who carries antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 may be less likely to be re-infected from a new exposure to the virus, however, should continue to use appropriate precautions such as hand hygiene, wearing a mask in public spaces and social distancing to minimize any potential for reinfection.
The test can serve as a monitoring tool in population health management.
Developing antibodies to this virus tells you that your body has produced a defensive response, what is medically called an ‘immune response’ to fight off the virus. Research is underway to learn if the antibodies you developed will prevent you from becoming infected again as happens with antibodies that form after infection with other viruses like chickenpox or measles. However, because the COVID-19 virus is so new, we still don’t know if the antibodies you develop will lead to your having immunity, which would prevent you from becoming infected again. This is something the scientific community will actively be studying to provide recommendations going forward.
When your test is positive for the IgG antibodies for the COVID-19 virus, it means that your body is fighting off the infection or has already fought it off. Typically for most viruses, once you have developed the IgG antibodies, you are no longer contagious because the antibodies attack and inactivate the virus. But because the COVID-19 virus is new, more research is needed to determine if this is true for this specific virus. People should always talk to their physician about managing their health.
Yes. The CDC advises those with positive antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 continue to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and others. This includes staying six feet away from people when outside or away from home (social distancing). Antibody test results should not be used to determine whether it’s safe to return to school, work or group settings, or whether or not to use personal protective equipment.
Antibody tests are playing a critical role in learning more about the virus and the fight against COVID-19. Antibody tests can provide public health officials with information on how many people in the community have been infected, which is important with COVID-19 as we have learned that some people do not have symptoms or have few symptoms. It can help public health officials learn more about how the virus spreads within communities and which groups of people were most susceptible to being infected, while also identifying which groups of people have recovered. Laboratories are required to report all testing results related to COVID-19 to the Department of Health.
In addition, if you do test positive for antibodies, you may be a candidate to donate your plasma to be used for a patient treatment called convalescent plasma therapy that is being used by several leading healthcare institutions to help patients with COVID-19 who are sick or critically ill to recover. A recent Mayo study showed that plasma donations from patients who have overcome the virus can help patients who are still struggling with it currently.
We recommend consulting with your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
The Abbott antibody test, the one used by Baptist Health, detects antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19. In medical and scientific language, the Abbott antibody test has 99.63% specificity and 100% sensitivity at the time of detecting antibodies 14 days or greater, post symptom onset. This means that 14 days after the onset of symptoms, the test will identify an individual who has developed antibodies to the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) 100 % of the time. This is called the sensitivity of the test. The Abbott test also tells you that the antibodies the test detected are antibodies to the COVID-19 virus 99.63% of the time. This is called the specificity of the test.
You don’t have to have a specific awareness of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus to have an antibody test. You should discuss your testing options with your healthcare provider. The decision for testing is a personal healthcare decision which is up to each individual. People who live with elderly parents or grandparents, with someone who has underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, asthma or COPD or with someone who is immune compromised, those who have traveled or simply recall being ill, may decide they want to have an antibody test. Or, you may choose to get tested simply for your own personal knowledge.
If you have insurance, please consult your insurance plan. According to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), plans or issuers are waiving out-of-pocket expenses for COVID-19 testing.
For self-pay patients, the cost is $199 (includes the exam and lab fees.) As a result of the FFCRA as amended by the CARES Act, funding was secured to cover cost for uninsured patients unable to afford the self-pay price. It is important to note that not all Baptist Health entities are participating in this program. Baptist Health entities that are participating in the CARES Act will not collect from, or bill the patient for a Covid test.
If you are looking for a “No-Cost” option, contact your health care provider
You may be able to submit the expenses associated with this testing to your Health Savings Account, Flexible Spending Account, Health Reimbursement Account, or similar account for reimbursement. Please check with your health account administrator
This test is only available for persons 18 years of age or older.
The antibody test does not require fasting.
No advanced prescription is required.
You may walk in to any Baptist Health Urgent Care or Urgent Care Express location; however, booking in advance is strongly encouraged using our Save My Spot online reservation program (BaptistHealth.net/UrgentCare) to speed up the process and stagger the visits. We may also invite you to wait from your car and text you when it’s time to come in.
When you visit a Baptist Health Urgent Care or Urgent Care Express location your safety is our priority. All our staff members wear protective gear including masks and gloves. We have routine cleaning and sanitation standards that exceed CDC guidelines.
Additionally, you will notice we have made changes to our waiting room to accommodate more space to ensure appropriate social distancing practices to minimize contact with others.
Lastly, while you are in the exam room being tested, you will observe that our providers wear protective clothes, masks and face shields when they collect samples.
To research more about the COVID-19 Antibody Test, please visit the CDC website.