Quest Diagnostics announced Tuesday that individuals can now skip a doctor's visit and order a coronavirus antibody test online in a push to broaden Covid-19 screening.
An antibody test shows whether someone has been exposed to or potentially had the coronavirus and developed the antibodies to fight the infection. It doesn't guarantee immunity, but physicians say a positive antibody test indicates that a patient may have some level of protection against reinfection. The test costs $119, according to Quest's website.
Quest screens patients online to determine whether or not an antibody test is appropriate and then sends them to have their blood drawn at one of the company's 2,200 laboratories, Quest said in a statement. The results are available within one to two days after a blood sample is taken, the company said.
Quest said the antibody tests can be helpful for those who were never diagnosed with Covid-19 and believe they've previously been exposed to the virus, or to test people who did have Covid-19 to determine whether their body produced antibodies to fight against the disease.
World health officials warn, however, that scientists still don't know whether coronavirus antibodies give a person immunity or reduce the risk of reinfection.
U.S. officials and corporations across America are pouring money into antibody testing, hoping it will give people confidence to return to work and reopen parts of the economy.
Some countries are considering issuing so-called immunity passports or risk-free certificates to people who have antibodies against Covid-19, enabling them to travel or return to work assuming that they are protected against reinfection, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the World Health Organization's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, told reporters on Monday.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced preliminary data Monday from the state's widespread antibody testing, which he said will provide the state with its "first true snapshot" of how many people have been infected with Covid-19 in New York.
An estimated 14.9% of New Yorkers have likely had Covid-19 after the state randomly tested 7,500 people at grocery stores and shopping locations to see if they had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus, indicating they have had the virus and recovered from it, Cuomo said.