CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, one of the many things unclear about this new virus is who has it.
There are 12 different symptoms, ranging from headaches to fatigue, and some patients never experience them.
People can test positive for COVID-19 without ever feeling sick, where other coronavirus patients are hospitalized.
The American Red Cross is testing every blood, platelet, and plasma donation for COVID-19 antibodies. That will tell you whether or not you were infected with the virus in the past.
The move started in June.
“As a humanitarian organization and member of the broader health community, the Red Cross has adapted our services to help meet the needs of this extraordinary time,” said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Biomedical Services. “We recognize that individuals and public health organizations desire more information about COVID-19, and as an organization dedicated to helping others, the Red Cross is fortunate to be able to help during this pandemic.”
Antibody tests are not for people who might currently have coronavirus.
According to the CDC, antibodies from a COVID-19 infection may not show up for 1 to 3 weeks.
Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections.
They can also possibly protect you from getting a disease again.
Whether that is the case with coronavirus is still being explored.
A small number of patients in Wuhan who tested positive for COVID-19 later became sick again.
Antibodies will also help in the development of a coronavirus vaccine.
The National Institutes of Health reports much of the work to develop a vaccine is focused on the antibodies of recovered patients.
SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) particles have spikes that latch on to human cells, according to NIH.
A potential vaccine would have antibodies that stop the spike from ever hooking into a cell.
Coronavirus antibodies do not mean immunity, but they do give you more information about whether you have been exposed.
All donors need to make an appointment and wear a mask.
Donation centers will also be conducting temperature checks.
Learn more about Red Cross safety protocols here.
Click here to make an appointment or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.