BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — A local health care provider is offering drive-thru coronavirus antibody testing that can determine if someone has had the virus.
BowTie Medical began conducting the testing last month in the parking lot of the Broadview Heights Community and Recreation Center.
Lead Physician Dr. Kelli Buckner said so far, about 500 tests have been completed.
“We designed the test to not require a physician’s order,” Buckner said. “We are wanting this to be available to the general public.”
Anyone can register online, drive into a tent and provide a blood sample through a finger prick. The company said the FDA-approved test it’s using returns results in just ten minutes with 99 percent specificity. Results are then emailed to the person tested.
“We implemented the process so the general public and employers could take advantage of an easy, simple, quick process to be tested for antibodies,” Buckner said.
Positive results indicate if someone has developed short-term or long-term antibodies after having COVID-19, even if that person did not show symptoms or was never tested for the virus.
“People who were treated in February, January for a sinus infection, people treated for allergies,” said BowTie Medical President and Founder Dr. Firouz Daneshgari.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronavirus antibodies typically become detectable one to three weeks after symptoms.
“Evidence suggests that infectiousness likely is greatly decreased and that some degree of immunity from future infection has developed,” the CDC states on its website.
The CDC says more data is needed regarding immunity and how long it lasts before public health recommendations are modified.
With vaccine availability still about a year away, Daneshgari said antibody testing helps determine who may be immune.
“In order for us to understand herd immunity, we need to know who’s immune and who’s not, who’s been exposed or not, and this this is the simplest and fastest way for us to understand who has been exposed and who has not,” he said.
The BowTie test costs $100, which the company said may be at least partially covered by some insurance plans.
Daneshgari said some businesses are paying for all employees to be tested as they develop a strategy for reopening and staying open. BowTie has conducted on-site testing for some large employers.
“Among all the uncertainty we’re dealing with, this is one certainty we can hold on to and move from here,” he said.
While research about COVID-19 immunity continues, health officials have said antibody testing can provide a clearer picture of how widespread the virus has been. The Ohio Department of Health has been conducting a statewide antibody survey to determine the prevalence of the virus in the state.
“Collecting the information and the data will help advance the science of helping us understand more about this virus,” Buckner said.
Daneshgari said BowTie Medical expects to begin partnering with Case Western Reserve University next week on research regarding the use of convalescent plasma from people who have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. The company said it might also expand testing to other area sites.