Could a blood test for COVID-19 antibodies help reopen the economy?

Coronavirus

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (WGN) — Antibody tests do offer great hope for re-opening our city and state, knowing who will remain healthy and the vulnerable who may still need to shelter.

Inside ARCpoint Labs in Schaumburg, lab tests that are like gold.

President and owner, Anne Kurilich, said, “Originally, people were clamoring to get tested for the virus itself, now people are wondering, were they exposed to the virus, maybe they were sick, maybe they were around someone who was sick and had the classical now classical symptoms of COVID-19 which are also the classical symptoms of the flu.

So how does the Coronacheck show whether someone had already recovered from COVID-19? It looks for a protein.

“When you get sick with this virus, IgM is the first response,” Kurlich said.

In addition to red and white blood cells, the blood has serum. The serum has many proteins doctors can measure for various ailments.

In the case of COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by SARS CoV-2, when the immune system begins to recognize the viral assailant, it produces two types of antibodies, IgM and IgG.

IgM acts rapidly, determining the body’s initial response to infection. But over time, IgG intensifies and lasts in the blood indicating a person has recovered from the infection and now has immunity that can be detected and possibly donated through their blood.

“If you have the IgG, you are not going to be susceptible to reinfection,” Kurlich said.

The answer is revealed in just 10 minutes at ARCpoint Labs.

Results are so precise; it is not simply a positive or negative. One scenario: IgM and IgG negative.

“That either means you have not been exposed or you are in the very early stages of exposure,” Kurlich said.

But you could be IgM positive while still IgG negative.

Kurlich says that means “You are probably still infectious. You`ve had a coronavirus, probably still in the infectious stage. You probably want to isolate for another 5-7 days and then maybe retest to see if you developed IgG antibodies yet. The IgG antibodies would mean you have developed or you are starting to develop immunity.”

Both positive proteins indicate a recent infection, with a chance of immunity. Perhaps the most desired result: IgG positive and IgM negative. The infection is over and you have immunity.

The staff at ARCpoint began testing on Friday.

“We`ve seen people who are concerned, they are taking care of their elderly parents or grandparents, they are concerned whether they`ve been exposed. We`ve seen healthcare workers who are also very concerned, first responders who are confused, want to know if they`ve been exposed or not,” Kurlich said. “We`ve seen people who have tested positive for the virus want to see if they have the antibodies and want their family tested. We`ve also had interest from employers wanting to test their employees to see if they`ve been exposed as well.”

The lab does not offer coronavirus tests for people coughing or with fever.

“We don`t test people who are sick.  We test people who are well or have no symptoms,” she said.

ARCpoint is experienced with well testing: they do cholesterol, pregnancy, food sensitivity and drug and alcohol testing. Their clients include the federal government. And they are following protocol to make sure they have valid antibody tests.

Kurlich says potential customers should do their homework as well to find a reputable testing site.

“The FDA, on its website, has a list on their website of manufacturers who have followed their guidelines and rules. Look for that list and find a lab that is selling one of the test kits from that list.”

And in just a few days testing, their results have proven their test works. They gave an antibody test to someone who already had a virus test.

“We tested someone who did test positive for the virus and he did have antibodies for the virus,” Kurlich said.

Right now, the test costs $65 but Anne says based on the demand, she ordered another batch of tests and they cost more, which will drive the price up for consumers.

Remember, this is the test of the future not the virus test in short supply.

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