UCHealth is offering COVID-19 testing and antibody tests for anyone in Colorado. The COVID-19 PCR test (nasal swab) can determine if someone is currently sick with the novel coronavirus and is appropriate for someone who has symptoms of the virus. The antibody test (blood draw) can determine whether someone has been exposed to or been sickened from the virus in the past.
With many patients recovering from COVID-19 and leaving hospitals, many people in Colorado are wondering if they, too, may have been exposed and have antibodies but didn’t have symptoms.
Antibodies are molecules in your body that react to a foreign substance. If you get infected with a virus or bacteria, your body produces antibodies to fight that infection, and those antibodies may still be present years after an infection.
“Many people have been interested in getting antibody tested because they want to know if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or they want to know if they are possibly immune to COVID-19. Unfortunately, for now, the only thing we can tell you is that if you have antibodies, you have been exposed to COVID-19. We cannot tell you yet whether you are immune to it,” said UCHealth Chief Innovation Officer Richard Zane, M.D., who is also the professor and chair of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The antibody tests that UCHealth now provides have been evaluated by the FDA and far exceed the agency’s requirements for accuracy and specificity. The test UCHealth is offering is >98% specific, meaning that there are fewer than 1 in 1000 errors.
The COVID-19 PCR test (nasal swab) and antibody test (blood draw) are available in two ways: Any UCHealth provider can order the tests for their patients, or patients may schedule tests through My Health Connection. Anyone who isn’t a current UCHealth patient can create an account online and schedule testing. UCHealth is charging $100 for the COVID-19 antibody test and $85 for the PCR (nasal swab) test. While most health insurance plans will cover the cost of testing, patients are encouraged to check with their insurance company for coverage details.
“Regardless of whether you have antibodies or not, you should not change your behavior. You should still physically distance from others, wear a mask if appropriate and wash your hands meticulously and often. It’s very important that you do not change your behaviors because we don’t know if the presence of antibodies will prevent you from potentially getting sick from COVID-19 again,” said Zane.
UCHealth facilities are found in Steamboat Springs or in the Front Range. For more information or to schedule testing, go to UCHealth. org/access-my-health-connection.