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Monument Health to offer COVID-19 antibody testing

Apr 17, 2020 11:18AM ● By MED Magazine
On Monday, Monument Health will launch a new type of COVID-19 test that allows anyone to find out if they have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. It’s a blood test that identifies antibodies associated with the virus.

Called the SARS-CoV-2 IgG Antibody test, it is being offered through Mayo Clinic Laboratories. The test is used only to detect antibodies to the virus, not to diagnose an active infection. Patients with current symptoms that meet the CDC testing criteria should be tested using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) process.

Unlike the PCR tests, there are no restrictions on who can be tested for antibodies. The only requirement is that the blood must be drawn 10 days or more after the onset of symptoms or known exposure to the virus. It takes 10 days for the antibody to show up in the bloodstream. If testing is done too early, there’s a risk of a false negative result.

The Mayo Clinic COVID-19 antibody test can help in the identification of previously exposed individuals who may have developed immunity. The presence of the immune response suggests that the patient is less likely to get infected or reinfected. Antibody testing is important because as many as 20 percent of people who have been infected don’t experience symptoms. The test also helps medical professionals and epidemiologists better understand the spread of the disease, and it’s an important tool for aiding vaccine development.

“This test will also be useful in identifying recovered patients who can donate their antibody-rich blood, known as convalescent plasma, to potentially save other patients with severe COVID-19,” said Michelle Stephens, Vice President of Operations for Monument Health Rapid City.

Anyone who is interested in the antibody test should call the Nurse Triage Line (755-1350 or 800-279-1466) to schedule a test. It requires a small blood sample, which can be drawn at any of the five Monument Health drive-thru testing sites. The drive-thru sites are being used because the person being tested could still be carrying the active virus, Stephens said. The drive-thru sites will assure that other patients are not exposed.

Mayo Clinic Laboratories can usually have results in three to five days. The cost of the test is  $100.