Antibody tests that show whether someone has recovered from the coronavirus are being rolled out to primary care offices and urgent cares across the city, The Post has learned.
The tests, touted by Governor Andrew Cuomo as a major key to restarting the economy, can tell a patient whether their immune system has fought off the bug, even if they never had symptoms.
The Post found over nearly two dozen primary care offices across the five boroughs and Long Island that are offering the test for patients who think they may have been exposed, or had a mild case of the bug, but were never able to get tested.
Additionally, CityMD, an urgent care chain with over 100 locations in New York and New Jersey, sent an email out to patients late Monday announcing they have the antibody test available starting Tuesday, according to two copies of the email obtained by The Post.
Just mere weeks ago, New Yorkers seeking to get tested for the coronavirus had to either be a first responder, health care worker or languishing in a hospital bed to receive the coveted test while the antibody exam hadn’t even been developed yet.
Last week, LabCorp announced their own antibody test will now be available at nearly 2,000 testing locations, accessible with a doctor’s note, and tens of thousands of doctor’s offices nationwide, including in New York.
The testing giant currently has the capacity to perform more than 50,000 of the tests each day and hopes to increase that capacity to 200,000 per day by mid-May, a spokesperson told The Post.
When people fight off viruses, they develop antibodies that make them immune to the bug, at least for a short period of time, experts previously told The Post.
The World Health Organization said last week that COVID-19 survivors can expect “some level of protection” after recovering from the virus but more research needs to be done before they can know how long that immunity lasts, how strong it is and if everyone develops it the same way.
Hospitals across the Big Apple have been offering antibody testing for about a month through their plasma donation programs, but had strict requirements. Many had to prove they were positive by showing a doctor or lab note and many had to be re-tested and show they were negative before they could get the test.
Now those requirements are being relaxed at urgent cares and primary care offices.
“Please be aware there is substantial evidence that people may have been infected without ever being symptomatic. Depending on the timing of the infection, the blood test will also detect the IgG antibodies in this population. Patients who believe they were exposed and want to be tested should discuss their situation with a CityMD provider,” the CityMD email reads.
The email advises patients who were symptomatic, but not sick enough to be tested for the coronavirus, to wait 2-4 weeks after the symptoms end to get tested because it takes some time for the antibodies to show up in the blood. They said the test is “nearly 100% accurate” when done more than 14 days after symptoms end.
Patients can expect results within 3-5 days, the email stated.
A similar email went out to patients of the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center in Midtown, Manhattan saying the test was available for recently recovered patients through LabCorp, according to a copy of the message.
It cautioned that the test does not prove immunity and urged patients to “continue to practice an abundance of caution with distancing and self protection” until further testing is done to prove the antibodies bring long-lasting immunity with them.