Quest Diagnostic Inc said on Tuesday individuals can purchase COVID-19 antibody testing for themselves through its website QuestDirect without visiting a doctor’s office.
Last week, Quest said it was launching its COVID-19 antibody test service for healthcare providers to order on behalf of patients and said it expected to perform more than 200,000 tests a day by mid-May.
Quest said on Tuesday people who buy the test online will be prompted to schedule an appointment for a blood draw at one of its 2,200 patient service centers across the US, and the test results will be available on the company’s patient portal MyQuest, within two days of the blood draw.
Through QuestDirect, individuals can request for the test and purchase it online for $119, the company said.
Quest primarily uses a highly-accurate antibody test made by Abbott, which the company says is 100% specific to coronavirus – meaning it does not mistake antibodies developed against other infections as coronavirus ones – and 99.5 specific, meaning it almost never misses someone who has been infected.
Quest Diagnostics has created on online platform for Americans to order coronavirus antibody tests without ever visiting a doctor’s office, clinic or testing sit, the company said Tuesday
HOW DO ‘STRIP’ BLOOD TESTS FOR CORONAVIRUS WORK?
Simple blood tests for coronavirus, like Premier Biotech’s, work much like pregnancy tests.
After the sample of blood is collected, a technician injects it into the analysis device – which is about the size of an Apple TV or Roku remote – along with some buffer, and waits about 10 minutes.
The blood droplet and buffer soak into the absorbent strip of paper enclosed in the plastic collection device.
Blood naturally seeps along the strip, which is dyed at three points: one for each of two types of antibodies, and a third control line.
The strip is marked ‘IgM’ and ‘IgG’, for immunoglobulins M and G. Each of these are types of antibodies that the body produces in response to a late- or early-stage infection.
Along each strip, the antibodies themselves are printed in combination with gold, which react when the either the antigen – or pathogen, in this case, the virus that causes COVID-19 – or the antibody to fight are present.
Results are displayed in a similar fashion to those of an at-home pregnancy test.
One line – the top, control strip – means negative.
Two lines – the top control line and the bottom IgM line – in a spread-out configuration means the sample contains antibodies that the body starts making shortly after infection.
Two lines closer – control and IgG – together mean the person is positive for the later-stage antibodies.
Three lines mean the patient is positive for both types of antibodies.
The service could help individuals without any COVID-19 symptoms find out if they have been exposed to the virus and have developed antibodies to fight it.
US officials and doctors are eager to get as many people tested for antibodies as possible because the results have been widely looked to as the key signal that the US can start reopening safely.
When our bodies encounter a new pathogen, our immune systems start learning that bacterium or virus and produce antibodies – special immune cells – to fight it.
Antibodies may protect people who have had the infection from getting infected over again for some amount of time – although it’s not yet clear what level of immunity coronavirus antibodies offer, or how long.
Tests like those offered through Quest Diagnostics’ services measure levels of these immune cells in patients’ blood.
The part of the patients’ blood that carries antibodies reacts with a chemical concoction that includes the antibodies themselves, often printed with gold on a piece of paper that changes colors when the blood has the immune cells too.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulators have now given emergency use authorization to seven antibody tests in the US.
But relaxed regulations intended to help expand desperately needed diagnostic and antibody testing have cleared the way for a rush of antibody tests to come to the market without FDA authorization and amid questions over their accuracy.
More than 100 antibody tests are now available but haven’t been reviewed by the FDA’s stringent eye for accuracy and reliability.
Reports have emerged of some of these un-reviewed antibody tests returning false-positive results.
We don’t really know how much protection antibodies would afford someone who had been exposed to coronavirus and developed them, but the false-positive result would lead someone who had never been exposed to believe they had – and may have immunity to reinfection.
Accuracy in antibody testing is described by two measures: specificity and sensitivity.
If a test is highly specific, that means that it runs a very low-risk of reacting to antibodies to a different infection and is instead very exact at picking up antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Quest Diagnostics primarily uses antibody tests made by Abbott like this one, which the company says are 100% specific to coronavirus, and 99.5 percent specific .- highly accurate relative compared to some antibody tests, but it’s still not clear just what level of protection antibodies give
Its sensitivity is a measure of how infrequently a test fails to identify a patient who has definitively had coronavirus and should have developed antibodies to it.
Quest Diagnostics primarily uses Abbott’s antibody test, which is approved by the FDA and is 100 percent specific and 99.5 percent sensitive, according to its maker.
Its portal, QuestDirect, lets people find a blood-draw location near them, select and schedule a time to have the sample collected and analyzed for antibodies.
The company promises results within two days of having your blood drawn.
Quest is not offering diagnostic test for people who have not been diagnosed with coronavirus but think they may have the infection through their online ordering system.
Courtesy DAILY MAIL