coronavirus

COVID-19 Antibody Tests Hit The DFW Market

Consumers can find them for as cheap as $20, but here's what you should know

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There are clinics, labs and some doctor's offices in DFW where you can go and pay for one of these tests that can tell you if you've had COVID-19 in the past and now have the antibodies in your body, but confusion is building over COVID-19 antibody tests.

This week, the FDA authorized tests from Chembio Diagnostic Systems and Ortho Clinical Diagnostics.

They join a test authorized in early April from the company Cellex.

Also on Wednesday, Abbott Laboratories announced it will release a new antibody test though it does not have explicit FDA authorization.

Abbott and dozens of other companies are legally allowed to distribute it under regulatory flexibilities issued by the FDA.

The tests being offered to North Texans for anywhere between $20 and $70.

It uses a drop of blood to look for IgM antibodies, which are present in a current COVID-19 infection and/or IgG antibodies which stay in your body after you've recovered.

The question is for how long?

"We don't know the answer to that," said the chair of the Texas Public Health Coalition Dr. John Carlo.

Carlo said that's one big takeaway people should know about antibody testing.

"We don't even know if that test being positive really proves that you were safe or immune from subsequent coronavirus infection, so if anything, I worry that a positive test may give someone a false sense of security," he said.

There's also a question about those IgM antibodies.

They could mean you're an asymptomatic carrier. Your doctor may give you a referral for a PCR test, which is the nasal swab test.

"A lot of us want to get tested so that we might show that we are immune or protected from getting another coronavirus infection. Again, the antibody test is really not going to be helpful for us."

Carlo said the antibody test sees how it can be a powerful tool if rolled out in a mass setting, like a nursing home, to help public health decision-makers track local infections.

National health leaders have said the tests can help strengthen the numbers of nurses, doctors and first responders on the front lines.

Right now, experts say there is no perfect test and still so much to learn about COVID-19 antibodies, which is why social distancing is still key in slowing the spread.

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