CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When health experts discovered COVID-19 patients could be asymptomatic, more people realized they may have unknowingly had the novel coronavirus, so antibody tests are now being used to test patients like these.
Antibody tests can determine whether your body fought off the virus.
With antibody tests becoming popular, those looking to take advantage already are on the prowl.
The Better Business Bureau said it has already had 15 reported antibody testing-related scams.
"You may receive a robo-call or some sort of email saying 'We can provide this antibody test for you,' " said Corpus Christi Regional BBB Director Katie Galan. "In some cases, as little as 10 minutes, you can receive your results once you have the test. Don’t click on any of the links, don’t give them any information."
Meanwhile, health professionals at Physicians PremiER said that it takes more than the antibody test to get an accurate result.
"The antibody test cannot be used as the sole information of diagnosis of COVID-19," said the clinic's lab supervisor Megan Phillips. Phillips personally tested more than 150 COVID-19 tests to date.
Physicians PremiER offers a testing process to make ensure the most accurate result.
They perform a three-pronged testing regimen to see whether the virus has been in your system, and how the body reacts to the virus itself.
The first test is antigen testing: It can quickly be used to find fragments, or a shell, of the COVID-19 virus and can alert healthcare professionals quickly to new cases.
The second test, a molecular test, looks for the cor of the virus itself: It has been the standard for detecting the novel coronavirus in the United States since the outbeak began. These two tests are nasal-swab tests.
The third test is an antibody test; it detects remnants of the virus, alerting them to whether a patient may have previously had undetected COVID-19. This test is done by collecting a blood sample, and said a full draw is more accurate than a finger-stick test.
However, with the new technology, many health experts, including Phillips, say the antibody test is not recommended. Those tests currently have a small percentage of giving a false result, and, the antibody test will only detect infection up to six weeks prior to getting tested.
For those who think they have been contacted by someone offering fake antibody tests, Galan and Phillips have some advice:
- Make sure the test is FDA approved. Phillips said to ask your healthcare office if the test has FDA approval or is pending approval.
- Do your research. Check the BBB.org website to make sure businesses legitimate.
- Speak to your physician on how and where to get tested. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can call the Nueces County Health Department.
For more information on antibody tests, you can see what the Centers for Disease Control has to say.
Physicians PremiER also is now allowed to test Medicare patients for the virus. Previously, standalone emergency rooms had been barred from testing by the state government even though they had the supplies to do it.
"The President wants prompt emergency care for our senior citizens," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lonnie Schwirtlich. "Particularly in our Coastal Bend region where hospital wait times can be lengthy, overcrowded, and with COVID-19 contagion concerns. Being able to treat our older patients quickly in quiet, emergency rooms closer to home can make all the difference."