Antibody testing is now available in Arizona. But health experts caution a positive result doesn’t guarantee immunity.
While diagnostic testing that tells a patient if they have COVID-19 has been expanding across the state, a second type of testing is just getting started.
Antibody testing, which checks to see if a person has been exposed to COVID-19 and developed antibodies against it, is now being offered by two labs in the state.
Patient’s Choice Lab will be offering three special events for drive-thru antibody tests at Mountainside Fitness locations across the Valley this week. Anyone who is not currently showing symptoms can register online. Patients can choose to be tested without a prescription for $114, or they can bring a doctor’s order and bill the test to their insurance provider.
The events this week are going to be offered:
- Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mountainside Fitness – Arrowhead at 20250 N. 75th Ave. in Glendale
- Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mountainside Fitness- Chandler/Ocotillo at 1920 S. Alma School Rd. in Chandler
- Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mountainside Fitness- Paradise Valley at 5320 E. Shea Blvd. in Phoenix
Sonora Quest Labs is also offering antibody testing at its patient centers. The company said it hopes to offer tests to anyone who wants one starting in early May, but for now, doctor’s orders are required.
Anyone with a doctor’s order can schedule an appointment online at one of Sonora’s designated collection sites. The lab is capable of performing 1,000 to 3,000 tests per day, according to Gov. Doug Ducey’s office.
Ducey’s office also announced that the state has given the University of Arizona $3.5 million to test 250,000 healthcare workers and first responders for antibodies.
The first phase, starting Thursday, will include 3,000 people in Pima County. The university plans to begin expanding testing to healthcare workers and first responders in other parts of the state on May 7.
What Do the Tests Mean?
Antibody testing can give people some peace of mind as to whether they have been exposed to the virus or not. It can also help local officials track how infections spread through a community. But health officials caution that the presence of antibodies doesn’t mean a person is now immune.
“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” the World Health Organization said on its website last week.
While some people have proposed antibody testing as a way to quickly start reintegrating people into public life, the WHO has cautioned governments against pursuing this.
“At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificate,’ the organization explained. “People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission.”
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