JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Serology tests for COVID-19 antibodies recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are now available in Jacksonville. And the first round of results are in.
An appointment must be scheduled through Telescope Health.
To give viewers a better glimpse of the process, I took the test Monday, the first day it was available. Thursday evening, I received an email from Telescope health with my results: Negative.
The tests detect the presence of the COVID-19 antibodies to provide insight into an individual’s prior exposure and determine if the infection is resolved or active.
Doctors hope it will help health officials and citizens understand how widespread the outbreak may have been.
“What we really want to know from a public health standpoint is how prevalent this was in our community,” said Dr. Matthew Thompson, medical director of Telescope Health. “We don’t even need people to have had symptoms in the past. That’s certainly an indicator of why people might seek this out, but we’ve got a remember there’s a lot of asymptomatic carriers of this virus."
While Telescope Health continues to take appointments for traditional swab coronavirus tests at the drive-thru site at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, appointments for the antibody tests will be for LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics locations across Northeast Florida.
To be eligible, patients must have gone 10 days without any symptoms. They’ll apply using the Telescope Health app or at www.telescopehealth.com, screened for eligibility, receive a test order and then provided an interpretation of the result and return to work guidance, if necessary.
“You may still be recovering and, although you’re feeling better, if your body is still in the recovery phase of infection, that’s important to know, too,” Thompson said. When we’re having people return to work, we want to make sure that our workforce is completely recovered or not exposed."
Even though I didn’t fit the criteria, I went through the test.
"It starts with a virtual checkup through the app, answering questions about health history and how I’d been feeling. Once the doctor orders the test, a test is ordered at either LabCorp or Quest. Insurance is accepted or it’s a $65 out-of-pocket fee.
The blood draw is to look for two types of antibodies that would signal the body built up a defense against the deadly virus.
It took about five minutes, start to finish. They lab sent a vial of my blood to be tested for antibodies. Telescope Health said most results come back in 2 to 3 days.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last month that Florida Department of Health had ordered serology tests and he was hopeful it would help the state know just how widespread COVID-19 was in the state.
“We think having the serology test, having access to that, will be really important because there may be people who had an illness in February or March and didn’t go to the doctor for it, and maybe they think, ‘Maybe I had it,’" DeSantis said. "And then you can also spot-check a representative sample to see how many people in our society have the antibodies.”
The anti-bodies test has already been given to frontline workers who are interested at Jacksonville’s Lot J. With those tests, patients stay at the site for time it takes to get results – usually less than 25 minutes. Officials there said eventually it would be available for the general public, but the exact time hasn’t been determined.