American Red Cross to begin antibody testing on donations
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IDAHO FALLS — The American Red Cross will begin COVID-19 antibody testing on all donations.
Starting on June 15, all blood, platelet and plasma donations to the American Red Cross will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.
“As an organization dedicated to helping others, we are fortunate to be able to step up to help during this pandemic by offering this service at your upcoming blood drives,” American Red Cross said in a news release.
Antibody testing screens for antibodies created when the body fights an infection. Such testing may reveal if a person had COVID-19 and recovered from it.
However, antibody testing is not foolproof.
COVID-19 is a new strain of the coronavirus, the same virus that causes the common cold. According to the CDC, this means its possible antibody testing could result in false-positives. The CDC also says that some people may not develop detectable antibodies after having had COVID-19, or that the antibody levels could decrease over time making them undetectable.
Even so, antibody testing can help in a number of ways including knowing how many people have contracted the virus and recovered including those that never showed symptoms. It also helps with contact tracing and learning how far the virus has spread, according to Mayo Clinic.
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokeswoman Nikki Forbing-Orr said the state’s primary focus is on PCR testing to find current cases of COVID-19 instead of antibody testing.
“Antibody testing will certainly come in handy a little further down the road. But, for now, we’re just really focusing on that PCR testing to get a better sense for the impact of COVID-19 now,” Forbing-Orr said.
Antibody testing on Red Cross donations is free, but they do strongly recommend making an appointment. Test results will be available after a successful donation within seven to 10 days through the Blood Donor App or the Donor Portal on RedCrossBlood.org.