Antibody testing is now available to the public in Westchester County.
Earlier this month, antibody testing started for first responders at the Westchester County Center, which was converted into a makeshift hospital.
Now, that antibody testing program is being expanded by the Westchester Medical Center Health Network. Anyone interested in getting a test from Monday through Saturday may call and make an appointment. In most cases, results will be shared with each tested individual within 48 hours, according to the County.
So far, doctors say they have conducted more than 8,000 voluntary tests on health care workers and first responders.
This testing detects antibodies present in the blood when the body is responding to an infection like COVID-19. It’s an indicator of exposure and may show if a person has ever been infected with the virus, even if they didn’t have symptoms. The test also detects the body’s immune response to the infection.
“This test helps to detect if you had COVID-19 in the past, even if the virus is no longer there, and you no longer have signs and symptoms,” says Dr. Donald Chen, Westchester Medical Center Epidemiologist.
Dr. Chen says some people have been infected with COVID-19, but never had symptoms and never got tested for the virus. The antibody test could help doctors know just how many people were actually infected. “This will help public health officials potentially know what portion of the population had the disease, and how quickly it goes through populations to plan for the future.”
All this is important in the fight against coronavirus because the test can not only help doctors predict who is immune but people who have the antibodies may also donate blood or plasma to help in the treatment of those sickened by the virus.
An antibody test does not take the place of a test to see if a person is currently infected.
Appointments can be set up by calling (914) 326-2060.