Quest Diagnostics, the commercial lab company with 2,200 patient service sites around the country, just announced that it is selling on-demand COVID-19 antibody tests for anyone who wants one — and who is no longer symptomatic.
There could be crazy-high demand for antibody testing in the coming months as people want to know whether they might have already had COVID-19, whether they were symptomatic or not. And recent antibody prevalence studies in Santa Clara County, L.A., and New York have suggested the possibility that many thousands more people have been exposed to the coronavirus than we've yet understood. The CDC has said that as many as 25 percent of people who get the virus remain mostly or entirely asymptomatic, and many Americans who had especially bad cases of what they thought was the flu in January or February are now questioning whether they might have had COVID-19.
There does seem to be some restriction, though, on who will be allowed to get a test.
"With QuestDirect, an individual can request the test and purchase it online," says Quest in a statement. "Each test request is reviewed and, if appropriate, an order for testing is issued by a licensed physician. Individuals have the opportunity to speak with a licensed physician about their results."
The COVID-19 Immune Response test can be found at GetQuestTest.com, and it costs $119. The tests looks for IgG antibodies, which are what the body produces in response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But, Quest explains, "Antibodies typically suggest protective immunity after you’ve recovered or been exposed to COVID-19. However, evidence is still being collected to determine if IgG antibodies provide protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection."
People experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should be contacting their doctor or visiting one of the Bay Area's walk-up or drive-thru testing sites (at the moment, all sites in San Francisco still require an appointment or doctor referral). And Quest cautions that it will not do blood-draws for patients unless they have been asymptomatic for 10 days.
It's not clear if Quest is using any other criteria — such as suspected contact with an infected person, or suspected previous symptoms — to determine if a person can receive a test.
Meanwhile, for residents of a section of the Mission District, free antibody testing is ongoing today thanks to a UCSF-led study. More info on that here.
Photo via UCSF