UT Health RGV, the clinical arm of the UTRGV School of Medicine, has launched COVID-19 antibody testing as a third component of their pandemic initiatives, along with drive-thru testing and contact tracing operations.
Rio Grande Valley residents now can get tested for COVID-19 antibodies after they have tested positive for coronavirus.
The test checks your blood for antibodies against COVID-19, which can show if you previously have been infected.
Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections and usually provide protection against getting that disease again, known as immunity.
To be tested for antibodies, you must make an appointment through the Patient Communications Center at 1-833-UTRGVMD. In addition, walk-ins are welcome at primary care sites.
The draw/collection sites are located at the following locations:
- UT Health RGV Multispecialty, 2106 Treasure Hills Blvd., Harlingen 78550, (956) 296-1519
- UT Health RGV/Knapp Family Health Center, 2810 W. Expressway 83, Mercedes 78570, (956) 296-1831
- UT Health RGV Primary and Urgent Care, 3804 S. Jackson Road, Ste. #2, Edinburg 78539, (956) 296-3021
The test is done via intravenous blood draw, and the sample is sent to the UT Health RGV Lab for results, usually available within 24 to 36 hours, depending on the volume of samples.
Cost of the antibody test can be billed to your insurance with an order from a UT Health RGV physician, or a $75 rate will be applied for those without an order.
Dr. John Thomas, UTRGV associate professor of biology and director of COVID-19 operations at the UT Health RGV Clinical Lab, said the team is ready for this next step in combatting COVID-19 in the region.
“We are using the Abbott Alinity I platform to perform COVID19 IgG antibody testing. The test takes about 20 minutes to execute, and we have the capacity to run 200 samples an hour, or 2000 samples per day,” Thomas said. “The machine uses a chemiluminescent approach, which means it uses the emission of light as the result of a chemical reaction, to detect COVID-19. And, it has an accuracy rate greater than 99.5 percent.”
UT Health RGV Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Dobbs said UT Health RGV’s antibody testing efforts are important now more than ever.
“We have worked very hard to get ready to offer COVID-19 antibody testing, which is one of the tests offered by our new clinical lab,” Dobbs said. “We are excited to offer antibody testing because it will help to identify more candidates who could donate convalescent plasma, a therapy for COVID-19.”
COVID-19 testing is ongoing at the four UT Health RGV drive-thru testing sites located in Edinburg, Harlingen, Brownsville and Mercedes.
Antibody testing should not replace COVID-19 testing. To make an appointment, call 1-833-UTRGVMD.
UT Health RGV is conducting about 1,200 coronavirus tests daily.