*Westmed Medical Group is now offering Antibody testing. To learn how to schedule an Antibody Test with your primary care provider, please visit this link*
Every day, we know a little more about this virus and how we will be able to resume our daily lives. We have all heard many government officials and authorities of the state and national health departments say that antibody testing will be a critical component to getting life back to “normal”, or at least a new normal, as we look forward to a post-coronavirus world. While many medical groups and labs are already in-market offering an antibody test to the public, we want to remind you that it is important that antibody testing must be rooted in well-backed research and accurate data, so we can reduce the chance of a second wave of infection. Dr. Sandra Kesh, Deputy Medical Director, explains what we now know about COVID-19 antibody testing and what Westmed is doing to secure, accurate and reliable tests for patients.
What types of tests does Westmed have for COVID-19?
We currently have a “molecular test” for anyone who has new symptoms that might suggest COVID-19. As a reminder, these symptoms include fever, chills (including “shaking” chills), cough, difficulty breathing (or shortness of breath), headache, unexplained muscle aches, sore throat, or loss of smell or taste. This molecular test involves entry of a swab into your nose, and requires an appointment with our Urgent Care Center, or with your primary care provider. A positive test means that you have COVID-19, and will likely have some immunity after you have recovered. Westmed also offers an Antibody test, and you can learn more about booking a visit with your PCP to schedule an antibody test here.
What is Antibody testing?
With an antibody test, we are testing to see if your body has made antibodies specific for SARS Co-V2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s important that the test is specific for these antibodies, and not antibodies you may have to other coronaviruses (which typically cause the common cold). If you’re using a test that’s not specific enough, a positive result won’t tell you whether you’re immune to SARS coV-2, or a more benign coronavirus.
Why is antibody testing so important to “reopen” the country?
The ultimate goal is to have an antibody test that tells you with certainty that you have lasting immunity, and would not get re-infected if you were exposed to the virus a second, third, or fourth time. Once we have testing on this level, we can more accurately measure at what point we have enough immunity to relax social distancing. This is called “herd immunity”. We are likely many months from that point.
When a reliable test becomes available, what will it look like?
When a reliable test becomes available, it will be a blood test. Our lab technicians will take a sample of your blood and will isolate the parts of the blood that have antibodies in them and turn it into a serum. If you have coronavirus antibodies, they will be found in this serum.