I know there is both a growing interest in — and quite a bit of confusion about — the state of COVID-19 antibody testing. I wanted to take a moment to clear up some of the confusion.
PROBLEMS WITH ANTIBODY TESTS
The biggest reason that these tests are not widely available is that, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, they don’t work all that well. Most of the tests on the market have not yet been fully studied and approved by the FDA. The timing of when someone gets a test and the type of test used can affect how accurate the test is. Some tests could actually be detecting other coronaviruses, like the common cold, and some could be false positives, telling you have had the coronavirus when you really haven’t.
In addition, according to MDH, it is questionable that the presence of COVID-19 antibodies indicates immunity.
In other words, current antibody tests are not a magic solution that will allow the world to return to normal overnight, and it is negligent to suggest that is the case.
HOW TO GET AN ANTIBODY TEST
The MDH does not even have a comprehensive list of who is performing antibody tests around the state. MDH recommends individuals talk to their care provider about whether they should get an antibody test and where they can receive one. They also urge caution about finding one online, because there are a number of antibody scams out there that people can fall victim to.
The University of Minnesota offers antibody tests by both referral and by appointment. For instructions and a list of locations, visit mhealthfairview.org/covid19/covid19-testing/, but be aware that none of the retail locations are particularly close to our district.
Allina is also offering antibody tests. You can learn more at allinahealth.org/coronavirus-covid-19/your-safety/screening-and-testing.
This session, the Legislature passed more than $550 million in emergency COVID-19 funds to help hospitals and medical professionals respond to the crisis. We are optimistic that experts like the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota develop antibody tests that are reliable and accurate, but the science just isn’t there yet.
In the meantime, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.
As always, please contact my office to share any comments, questions or concerns. I would love to hear from you!