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CHRISTUS Spohn to test for COVID-19 antibodies

Posted at 6:03 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 20:34:35-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. — More COVIDd-19 tests are available for health care workers at a local hospital system. These tests are different from the ones offered by the Health Department, but are another important step in fighting the pandemic.

On Tuesday CHRISTUS Health announced that it was rolling out what it calls a “game-changing” COVID-19 antibody test at its facilities nationwide, including here in the Coastal Bend.

The tests are now available to CHRISTUS health employeeS as well as patients already in the hospital.

“We need to to be able to build confidence for our physicians, build confidence for our communities that it’s safe to get non COVID care,” said CHRISTUS Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Sam Bagchi.

These antibody tests use a finger prick and can tell if someone has been exposed to COVID-19 and has developed immunity.

“We know there’s a lot of asymptomatic and minimally symptomatic spread, so it’s hard to know if somebody’s been exposed,” said Bagchi.

What antibody tests won’t do is tell you if you have COVID-19, only if you have been exposed. One local doctor advertised a finger prick test on social media. While he declined our request for an interview, residents are happy more testing is available.

“We can probably do more testing just to make sure everyone is safe and everyone is being treated if they have it,” said Kelliinez Lopez.
Public health officials say more testing is needed, and welcome the antibody tests.

“The more yeses that we can perform, the more we can actually find out what we actually do have in our population,” said Corpus Christi/Nueces County Public Health District Executive Director Annette Rodriguez. “How many people are positive but asymptomatic? How may people are spreaders? How many people don’t have COVID-19?”

CHRISTUS Spohn’s tests are not yet available to the general public, but officials say they’re working on make more tests available as soon as they can.

“Down the road, we’re thinking about working with other community partners on helping get access to testing as well as they try to open up their businesses,” said Bagchi.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, leading expert on infectious diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, calls antibody tests an important step in figuring out if people can be reinfected.