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By Jana Mathia
Gazette Editor 

Getting a COVID-19 antibody test can benefit others

 


COLFAX – Do you think you had COVID-19 and want to find out? You may be able to do so and help area hospitals at the same time by donating blood.

The local blood bank is now including COVID-19 antibody testing of all donations. Antibody proteins are created as part of the body's response to a virus when a person becomes sick.

"It's another good reason for people to donate blood," said Whitman County Public Health Director Troy Henderson.

There is still much unknown about COVID-19 antibodies, including whether they will prevent future infection and spread. Henderson said there is a "tremendous amount of history" suggesting that a person wouldn't be reinfected or, if they were, symptoms would be more mild. It is believed the COVID-19 antibodies supply some level of protection, he said.

What is known is that plasma from a person with the antibodies can be used as a "plasma treatment" for those suffering from the disease. The plasma treatment is administered to reduce the illness. Even a person who was asymptomatic should have the antibodies.

When asked if a positive antibody test would negate the need for someone to wear a mask, Henderson replied that person could go without a mask in theory, but in practice it would be harder to do. He said wearing a mask at this time is a "social contract" that we are all going through this time together and supporting each other. There are several antibody testing kits available, but some are "wildly inaccurate."

The testing used by local blood bank Vitalant is one of the highest preforming tests granted FDA authorization, according to Vitalant's website.

Those who are able to can donate blood at an area Vitalant blood drive. About two weeks afterward, their test results would be available in the donor's online account.

The company began the new test in June and plans to continue at least through the summer.

Anyone who is eligible to donate blood can have the testing done. Those who cannot donate, but want an antibody test, can contact their primary medical provider.

As the virus activity has been low in the county so far, Henderson said it may be too early for many people to show up with antibodies.

"But it's never too early to donate blood," he said.

He has requested Vitalant provide a report of the precent of positive antibody tests.

The next blood drive for Colfax is scheduled for Wednesday, July 15, at The Center next to the library from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Donors are encouraged to schedule an appointment by calling 877-25-VITAL or online at Vitalant.org. Priority is given to those with appointments. Walk-ins are seen on a first come, first serve basis with photo I.D. required. Strict guidelines, including wearing masks, will be followed to ensure safety.

Author Bio

Jana Mathia, Reporter

Jana Mathia is a reporter at the Whitman County Gazette.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 509-397-4333
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