High demand for antibody tests coming from those who think they had COVID-19

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- There's an increasing need for testing to confirm cases of COVID-19.

More recently, there's also a demand for antibody tests from those who think they had the virus before tests were even available.

"We set up a way to send our labs so we can test patients," says Brian Brown, Family Nurse Practitioner at Advanced Medical Care Center.

Advanced Medical Care Center in Visalia started testing for the coronavirus antibodies a little more than a week ago, already taking samples from first responders and those who think they make have been exposed.

Eddie Perez of Visalia says he was one of the first to get tested after he says he went to a conference in late January and came back sick.

"It was flu-like symptoms," he said. "I went and did a flu test and it came back negative."

Brown says the patients are asked a series of questions, blood is drawn, and then it's sent to Quest Diagnostics.

"The positives just mean they testing positive for having the COVID-19 antibodies in their system," he said.

But accuracy remains a question among antibody kits as The FDA has only given emergency use authorization to a few antibody tests.

In a statement, Quest Diagnostics says they test using blood samples, and that these services, "primarily employ a test platform from Abbott that received FDA emergency use authorization on April 21."

As far as specificity, the company states the Abbott IgG antibody test is 99.4% accurate, meaning a low risk of cross-reactivity.

"They were able to say, 'Yes this patient has a COVID-type illness,'" Brown said.

However, Brown says there's no guarantee that having antibodies means your immune to the virus.

As for Perez, he says his antibody test came out negative.

"I was hoping if I did have it, I'd be able to share some plasma and help out that way."

Meanwhile, Brown says they're receiving an influx of calls from people wanting to get tested in hopes of answers.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
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