Patient First now offers tests to determine whether patients have antibodies for the coronavirus at all of its medical centers. Testing is available on a walk-in basis, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day of the week. Appointments are not needed for antibody testing.
The antibody test is used to determine if someone previously had the coronavirus and not to diagnose an active infection.
Antibody testing is for patients who believe they may have had the coronavirus in the past, who are not currently experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, and who are at least 5 years old.
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Patient First recommends being tested at least 14 days after onset of symptoms of the coronavirus, or 14 days after possible exposure, as it may take as long as two weeks for antibodies to develop.
The coronavirus antibody test used at Patient First tests to see if the blood has antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies may be found in the blood when the body is responding or has responded to an infection, such as COVID-19.
Antibodies may give full or partial immunity to the virus to which they develop. However, it is not known at this time how long the body will have antibodies or whether they actually give immunity to future infections from this virus.
Blood samples are sent to a third-party reference lab for antibody testing. Results will generally be available in about two to five days. Patients who agree to do so will receive their result via text message. Otherwise, patients will be contacted by phone about the result.
For most patients, there is no out-of-pocket expense for antibody testing. For insured patients, the visit will be submitted to patients' insurance plans. Patient First accepts all major insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. The lab will determine what, if anything, it bills the patient.
The scientific community is still looking for some answers regarding certain types of antibody tests. For instance, there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from the coronavirus are immune to catching it again.
It is also possible to get exposed to COVID-19 and not develop antibodies. With some low-quality tests, it's possible to receive a "false positive" because you had another type of virus.
The CDC issued interim guidelines May 26 for coronavirus antibody testing in clinical and public-health settings. The CDC is using data from the tests to estimate the total number of people infected with COVID-19 nationally.
Patient First also offers drive-up coronavirus active virus testing at designated centers, by appointment. Appointments for testing are made by calling a select designated testing center. Updates about testing sites, instructions about how to make an appointment, and other information is available at www.patientfirst.com/covid-19-testing.
All Patient First Medical Centers remain open on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day, for patients who have an urgent need for medical or injury care.