FLORENCE, SC – MUSC Health in Florence began offering antibody testing to care team members at the Florence and Marion facilities last week.
The expansion of this service to others in the community will start in the coming weeks. Testing is initially being offered to care team members and first responders. Testing time is Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm.
The serology test is a blood test that looks for the presence of antibodies, which are specific proteins made in response to infections. Antibodies can be found in the blood and in other tissues of those who are tested after an infection.
The antibodies detected by this test indicate that a person had an antibody response to COVID-19, whether symptoms developed from the infection or the infected person was asymptomatic. These antibodies may help provide protection from future infection as well as identify those still at risk.
“Many have been asking about immunity testing especially among health care workers. This test will help identify individuals who have developed antibodies without significant symptoms. Many of my colleagues have taken the test,” said Dr. Rami Zebian, MUSC Health – Florence Division Chief Medical Officer and Board Certified Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician.
“Everyone still needs to follow the recommendations established by the CDC in regard to social distancing, safe practice, and using appropriate PPE.”
The cost of the test will be billed to insurance. Based on the recent CARES Act, there is not an anticipated outstanding balance for the patient for this test.
It is important to know that there are limitations to serological testing:
• In the early days of an infection when the body’s antibody response is still building, antibodies may not be detected. For this reason, serological tests should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
• There is still a great deal we don’t yet fully understand about COVID-19 immunity. For example, we do not know whether or not someone who has developed antibodies is fully protected from reinfection, or how long any immunity lasts.
As soon as testing is opened to the community, the process for signing up will be communicated to the local communities