Big Sandy Pharmacy offering antibody testing
December 30, 2020
As the pandemic grinds on and begins to affect Big Sandy more directly, the Big Sandy Pharmacy has begun to offer antibody tests to determine if you have been exposed to the virus and developed antibodies. Dr. Danielle Weaver, PharmD describes the test and what it looks for: “You can come in and get a finger stick. It’s just a blood sample. We can test for two different antibodies. One is IGG, and the other is IGM. IGM indicates that you’ve had more of recent exposure and IGG indicates you’ve had more of a long term exposure. You’ve built up antibodies that fight against Covid 19.”
IGG and IGM stand for “Immunoglobulin G” and “Immunoglobulin M.” They are antibodies created and produced by the body to help fight off viral infections. IGM production is the initial response of the body to the presence of a virus. Later, the body begins to produce IGG for longer term protection against future infection. Though tests for IGG and IGM are not a new thing, the specific test for Covid 19 antibodies is new. The test doesn’t detect other infections, only Covid.
She went on to explain that “You don’t necessarily have to have symptoms to have antibodies. So you could have been asymptomatic. It’s not a diagnostic test. So I can’t say ‘You have it right now.’ It’s not that specific... Having antibodies indicates that your immune system has developed defenses against the virus.”
Dr Weaver estimated that about a third of the people who have taken the test at the pharmacy have tested positive for antibodies. Though many were able to identify when they were likely symptomatic, some have gone through the illness without having shown any symptoms of having been infected.
“You can develop the IGM antibodies within seven days of symptoms,” which means that you have recently gone through the infection. It’s fairly common for people to test positive for both, indicating that they have gone through exposure and some time has passed.
“Having antibodies doesn’t mean you can’t get reinfected. It doesn’t mean you can’t give it to anyone if you have the IGM. You still have to wear your masks and social distance,” Dr. Weaver points out, regarding the implications of a positive antibody test.
The test has been in high demand, with lots of locals stopping in at the clinic to get tested. Testing doesn’t require a doctor’s referral or an appointment. It costs $25 and takes about 15 minutes to get results.
The clinic has applied to be a distribution point for the Covid 19 vaccine and is waiting to hear if they will be able to administer the shots.