COVID-19 antibody testing is available in Parker County and the Texas Department of State Health Services recently began publishing antibody test numbers separately on their coronavirus tracking site.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibody testing can detect whether a person had a previous infection with COVID-19. However, depending on when the person was infected and the timing of the test, the test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection. It can also take up to three weeks after an infection to make antibodies.
“A positive test result shows you have antibodies that likely resulted from an infection with SARS-CoV-2 or possibly a related coronavirus. It’s unclear if those antibodies can provide protection (immunity) against getting infected again,” according to the CDC website. “Some people may take even longer to develop antibodies, and some may not develop antibodies.”
Currently in Parker County, LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics and Aledo Medicine Store are performing antibody testing, according to Parker County Judge Pat Deen.
But Parker County Emergency Management Coordinator Sean Hughes said there are a lot of theories surrounding antibody testing.
“There’s a huge question about the accuracy of the antibody test. Early on in this incident, there were a lot of antibody tests out there that various people were using. Since the disease has progressed, the FDA has pulled back a lot of those tests to validate how accurate they are and that’s one of the problems with the antibody testing — the accuracy seems to be all over the board,” Hughes said. “There are many theories, but like any test, it provides a snapshot of that particular moment in time. We don’t know a lot about antibodies and how that plays into the virus, but it’s not going to hurt anyone to get antibody testing, it’s just what the expectations are from the results.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported that as of May 21, there have been 60,252 antibody tests performed in the state.
Davis City Pharmacy is currently in the works to get antibody testing, but is waiting for an accurate test that they are able to perform at the pharmacy.
“The county contacted me about it and asked if we would be able to do [antibody testing]. There are actually no wholesalers that are providing those tests because the accuracy rate is somewhere between 20% and 70%, so the only accurate test right now is one that’s done via blood draw and so that would have to be performed in a lab,” Davis City Pharmacy Manager Brandi Chane said. “But we are patiently waiting.”
Hughes said the county officials are tracking the number of antibody tests locally as best they can.
“Those numbers aren’t added together with the [COVID-19] tests,” Hughes said.
The CDC has been looking at data from antibody tests to estimate the total number of people who have been infected with the virus in the United States.
“CDC is also using antibody testing to learn more about how the body’s immune system responds to the virus and to explore how the virus spreads among people exposed to it,” according to the CDC. “The information CDC is looking at comes from many groups, including blood donors and household contacts of people who had symptoms and were diagnosed with COVID-19.”