HURON, SD – Huron Regional Medical Center is now offering antibody testing for COVID-19, a direct-to-consumer blood test available through HRMC Physicians Clinic and various clinics in the community.
“Antibody tests, which are sometimes referred to as IgG or serology tests, may detect whether someone has been exposed to COVID-19,” explained Erin Scarborough, MSML, BS, MLT (AMT) ACHE, lab and pathology director for HRMC. “Antibodies are proteins in the blood that our body’s immune system uses to fight viruses and bacteria. Because testing for COVID antibodies is new and it’s usefulness is still being evaluated, it’s important to remember we don’t yet know whether having antibodies means that person is immune.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says antibody tests are most useful in watching the spread of COVID-19, as these tests can show how many people in a given group or area might have been infected. The CDC does not recommend that antibody tests be used in making health care decisions.
Antibody testing involves a quick blood draw performed by a trained professional. There are two possible results:
- Reactive (positive): suggests but does not confirm the person might have been exposed to COVID-19 and has developed an immune response.
- Non-reactive (negative): test shows no exposure.
It’s also important to note that the antibody test is not a test for active COVID-19 infection, says Scarborough. “That test is called the COVID-19 diagnostic test and is done via a nasal swab and is looking for active virus proteins,” Scarborough explained. ”Persons who have COVID-19 symptoms or known exposure to a confirmed positive case, should seek diagnostic testing by calling their health care provider or the Beadle County COVID Taskforce Call Center at 605-353-6214.”
Symptoms include fever over 100 degrees, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea or vomiting, loss of sense of taste or smell, and sore throat.
Direct-to-consumer COVID-19 antibody testing may not be covered by health insurance, however, these tests may be reimbursable through flexible spending accounts (FSA) or health savings accounts (HSA). The $80 test charge plus the blood draw fee is payable at the time of the test.
To receive the antibody test, call your health care provider and ask if the testing is available at their clinic. If you do not have a primary care provider, you may call the HRMC Physicians Clinic at 605-353-7660 and schedule an appointment.
Because this is a new test and does not confirm immunity, HRMC advises community members 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, stay home when you are ill and wash your hands often.
HRMC reminds the community that the hospital and clinics are open for business – and that putting off important medical care can be dangerous. More information about HRMC’s Safe Care is Right Here commitment, as well as COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing is available online at www.huronregional.org/COVID-19.
Photo cutline: Erin Scarborough, HRMC laboratory director