Coronavirus News: What to know about urgent cares now offering antibody testing

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- This week, antibody testing became more widespread and available throughout the Tri-State area to find out if you've been possibly exposed to COVID-19.

Some doctors offices, labs and urgent care centers are now offering the testing.

CityMD urgent care centers started making the testing available on Tuesday.

7 On Your Side spoke with a New York City man who waited in line for testing Tuesday morning for about two hours. Doctors took a vial of blood and he received the results online the next day. He tested negative for antibodies suggesting he was not exposed to the virus -- even though he experienced flu-like symptoms in March.

"I wish it would've come back positive but I'm happy that I did it," said Dan Chayes.

The tests are available to those who tested positive for COVID and believe they had it and have been symptom-free for at least two weeks and for those who believe they were exposed to the virus. There's no charge from the urgent care center for the testing -- they waive insurance co-pays.

The testing is available, without appointments, at all of their centers. A line has been forming outside of some locations where people have been social distancing by standing six feet apart.
If you test positive for antibodies, former FDA Associate commissioner Peter Pitts said it means you were exposed to the virus.

"Understanding who has already gone through COVID and come out on the other end of the tunnel is crucially important," Pitts said.

But they're unsure about the level of immunity those antibodies could provide. Doctors have said they don't have enough evidence to know if the antibodies prevent someone from being re-infected.

"It's very likely that having the disease will give you a certain degree of immunity but it depends how much that is," said Pitts.

There has also been reliability concerns with testing. Many of the tests are still under review by the FDA and researchers in California studied a dozen tests on the market and found some of the tests produced false positives.

"It all starts with good solid data which means the quality of the testing is so important," said Pitts.

As for Chayes, he wants to get another antibody test by his personal doctor once it's available for peace of mind.

"It's just kind of a wait and see and decide whether to see my parents, it's still a wait and see with what new information we have," said Chayes.

Results can take 3 to 5 days to return.

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