Portland area clinics now offer COVID-19 antibody testing
Residents in the Portland metro area now have greater access to COVID-19 antibody testing.
American Family Care announced Tuesday, May 6, that its five Portland area health clinics now have the ability to test patients for both active COVID-19 infection, and possible prior exposure.
The antibody tests reveal whether a person's body has built up antibodies as a result of having recovered from COVID-19, or having been exposed to it, but health workers warn that antibodies aren't a guarantee of immunity.
Christine Smith, family nurse practitioner with AFC Urgent Care, said the tests don't work if someone is actively sick.
"The accuracy is based on time, so say you were sick in February, that would be greater than 14 days, so the accuracy is 100%, but if you were less than three days from the onset of symptoms, it's not accurate at all," Smith said. "All the antibody test is telling us is have we been ill with it and have we been exposed to it to where our bodies have built up the immunity."
Those with current symptoms are instead recommended to get a nasal swab test for COVID-19. The Oregon Health Authority identifies many population groups, such as: those who are frontline workers; immunocompromised; pregnant; have underlying health conditions; are 60 or older; or those who identify as Black, African-American, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, Pacific Islander or as having a disability, as highest priority for receiving a COVID-19 test.
Smith said a positive antibody test isn't a guarantee that you won't get COVID-19 again, and having recovered from COVID-19 doesn't mean you're guaranteed to have antibodies.
"I have patients who have tested positive for COVID with the swab. We just retested them for antibodies, and I had one patient with antibodies, and one without," Smith said. "Just because you had it doesn't mean you've built up enough antibodies."
Nevertheless, the testing plays a key role in tracking the virus and its impacts on the population, and helping get a clearer picture of herd immunity.
AFC has administered hundreds of COVID-19 antibody tests at its clinics and clinic representatives say the tests are authorized by the FDA.
"AFC Urgent Care is on the forefront of the fight against this pandemic," said Guru Sankar, Managing Partner of AFC Urgent Care. "We are committed to serving patients and coordinating with public health officials toward full recovery."
Smith noted anecdotally that of the hundreds of tests she's administered, most have come back negative for antibodies.
Antibody tests are performed inside the AFC clinics in Portland, Beaverton, Lake Oswego and Oregon City, and require a patient's blood to be drawn. AFC recommends anyone who meets the criteria established OHA to make an appointment for a test, and company representatives say they're being broad with the criteria.
Consultations can be done virtually, and many people immediately qualify, whether they believe they've been exposed or not. Oregon Health Authority qualifiers include:
• If patients are visiting an AFC Urgent Care clinic for a swab test to check for current COVID-19 infection, they are seen in a pod outside the facility. Those who are symptom-free and seeking an antibody test will have their blood drawn inside a clinic.
• Test results for swab tests take two to three days, AFC said, and antibody test results take two to five days.
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