As the pandemic continues across the Northland, testing is crucial to see both who has COVID-19 and who may be carrying antibodies.  Essentia Health now has both tests available.

While there was already an increase in COVID-19 testing across the Northland, Essentia Health is now offering serology testing.  The tests are currently being processed through Mayo Clinic Laboratories, but Essentia expects to be able to process tests at their own lab within the next couple of months.

According to their press release, this test provides important information but it doesn't guarantee immunity:

Dr. Elena Rodgers-Rieger, Essentia Health physician chair of lab medicine and pathology, explains serology testing is “a blood-based test that looks for the presence of antibodies, which are produced by the immune system in response to infections.” Antibodies can be detected approximately eight to 11 days post-symptom onset for many patients; the vast majority of patients have detectable antibodies at day 14. This test could be helpful in determining if a patient has had recent or prior infection with SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus of COVID-19.

“It’s very important that everyone understand this test does not currently tell us anything reliable about a person’s overall immunity from COVID-19,” said Dr. Amanda Noska, an Essentia Health infectious disease physician. “We should not assume that a positive antibody test means the person is immune to COVID-19 based on the available data out there today.”

 

This test is not for anyone currently suffering symptoms of COVID-19.  If you or someone you know feels symptomatic, protocol with a primary health care provider should be followed to establish the need for a COVID-19 test.

The serology testing is important in that it helps health professionals understand how widespread the virus has been in the Northland and who might be a candidate to be a convalescent plasma donor and help those currently critically ill with the virus.

If you believe you are a candidate for an antibody test, you must first reach out to your primary care provider to be evaluated.

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