For individuals wondering if they had been infected with the COVID-19 virus but did not know it at the time, the answer to that question is a simple blood test away. Steward Medical Group primary care offices, in partnership with onsite laboratories, are offering antibody tests that can determine if a person has had a past infection during the pandemic.
“A serologic antibody test will bring peace of mind to many people who have been ill but may not have known they were sick from the coronavirus, as well as provide additional public health information on the number of people who have been infected with COVID-19,” said Michael Callum, MD, president of Steward Medical Group. “By offering this testing, we are responding to patients’ needs and the public health system’s desire to initiative COVID testing.”
Antibodies are part of the body’s natural defense system that helps fight infection. They also help increase the body’s ability to fight off disease if a person has a re-exposure. While there remains a lot to be learned about COVID-19, it is believed that people develop antibodies to the virus about one-to-two weeks after infection. However, there is not enough evidence yet to indicate whether having antibodies to COVID-19 provides immunity from being infected again by the virus.
To help patients determine if they should undergo an antibody test, Steward Medical Group Primary Care providers are conducting face-to-face or telehealth video visits to help educate patients about COVID-19 and antibody testing, as well as the proper personal protective equipment and best personal hygiene to use to help avoid contracting the virus. Additionally, physicians are educating patients on treatment and recovery from COVID-19, repeat testing, and vaccine outlook.
The serology antibody test for COVID-19 requires a physician’s order. The test is conducted through a blood draw and results are expected within two to three business days.
A negative test result for COVID-19 antibodies indicates that there is no evidence that the person has had a COVID-19 infection. If a person’s symptoms continue or have cleared up less than two weeks before the blood draw was taken, it may be too early to detect the presence of antibodies.
“By positively identifying people who have had COVID-19, we can help treat other patients who are suffering from this devastating virus,” Dr. Callum said. “This will broaden the pool of available donors for convalescent plasma treatment to aid those who are ill now with COVID-19, and those it will affect in the future.”
To schedule a face-to-face or telehealth video visit, call your Steward Medical Group primary care physician, or go online to www.stewardmedicalgroup.org