"We are now at the phase of this pandemic where we see that people are recovering from COVID-19 and we are eager to return to our normal lives. As eager as we might be, it's important to continue to protect ourselves with social distancing and face coverings and gloves while in public. Now is the time for antibody testing and that's happening in numerous ways on Staten Island," explained Borough President James Oddo. "It is especially important to note that even if you test positive for antibodies, evidence that you have been exposed to COVID-19, it may not make you immune to any future strains of the virus. We must continue to be vigilant about protecting ourselves and others."
What is COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing, and what does it tell you?
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, aches, persistent cough, loss of senses of smell and taste) and go to get tested, you may receive a Nasal Swab Molecular Test.
- This test will confirm, with a high degree of accuracy, whether you are POSITIVE or NEGATIVE for the virus AT THE TIME OF THE TEST.
- Your provider or the lab will usually contact you with results by phone and can advise you on how long to quarantine, based on the results of your test. The results could take 3-5 days, during which you must self-quarantine.
What is Antibody Blood Testing:
- Antibody blood tests can indicate if you had the virus in the past, whether or not you experienced symptoms.
- This test detects the “IgG” antibodies, which indicate that you had the virus in the past, and “IgM” antibodies, which may indicate more recent infection
- If you did have symptoms, you should wait at least 2 weeks after the end of symptoms to get the antibody test, as it can take this long for the body to produce “IgG” antibodies. This antibody test is nearly 100% accurate when used more than 14 days after the end of symptoms, which is why the timing is important.
- There is substantial evidence that people may have been infected without ever being symptomatic. Depending on the timing of the infection, the antibody blood test would detect the “IgG” antibodies in this population.
- Patients who believe they were exposed and want to be tested should discuss their situation with their healthcare provider.
What does Antibody Blood Testing tell you?
- You may have read or heard that the antibody test may provide evidence of future immunity. While this is often the case with other viruses, the science is not yet clear on this particular virus.
- At this point, antibody blood tests will indicate only that you did or did not have exposure to COVID-19 in the past.
- Currently we DO NOT know if having antibodies will prevent you from getting a future SARS CoV 2 coronavirus infection.
- While some of these tests have been approved by the FDA, for emergency use in a pandemic setting, we must stress that, like flu, strep, and many other widely used diagnostic tests, they are not 100% accurate.
For a list of locations offering testing on Staten Island, including antibody tests, please visit https://www.statenislandusa.com/covidtesting.html.
Borough President Oddo is pleased to share the progress of the collaborative effort with Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island’s skilled nursing facilities, and Chembio to bring antibody blood tests to Staten Island’s nursing homes, as well as RUMC staff. RUMC will be running and processing the tests, at its own cost and by its own lab technicians, for both their staff and for nursing facility tests. RUMC has quickly ramped up and trained its staff, completed the initial validation of the test kits, and begun testing staff for the antibodies.
This is an important step in beating COVID-19, and the Borough President expresses his gratitude for the partnerships to make this happen.
Thus far, six RUMC staff members in the Department of Laboratory Medicine have been trained to analyze the tests. Currently, RUMC is testing their medical personnel and staff, averaging about 125 tests per day. To date, 700 tests have been completed.
At this time, the collaborative is working on completing required paperwork as well as memorandums of understanding with the skilled nursing facilities and respective partners so that the testing can begin at their sites.
“We are very excited about this partnership with Borough President Oddo and Chembio labs,” Richmond University Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer, Daniel J., Messina, PhD, FACHE, said. “The safety and health of our staff on the frontlines of this pandemic is always our highest priority. They are caring for hundreds of COVID-19 positive patients in various stages of the virus. On behalf of everyone at Richmond University Medical Center, I would like to thank Borough President James Oddo and Chembio for helping us secure access to this new testing capability.”