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Officials: Antibody testing could be game-changer in fight against COVID-19

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Posted at 6:36 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-12 18:08:40-04

BROOKFIELD — If you want to find out if you are possibly immune to the coronavirus, an antibody test may give you an answer. Health officials say it could be a game-changer in the fight against the virus, and it's now being done in Southeastern Wisconsin.

ARCpoint Labs in Brookfield is slowly ramping up testing for coronavirus antibodies.

It's a simple finger-prick blood test that can tell you if you've had the coronavirus or were exposed and are now healthy with the antibodies for the disease. The test is not the same as the one to determine if you currently have COVID-19.

President Alan Wedal said they already have hundreds of tests scheduled for this week.

"Having the antibodies, especially the IgG tells you that your body has developed the fighting mechanism to fight off the coronavirus," Wedal said.

It just takes 10 minutes to get the results.

"Think of it like a pregnancy test. There will be lines that will be displayed on there," Wedal said.

While many health officials say if you have the antibodies, it's unlikely you'll get symptoms of the virus again, more research needs to be done.

Dr. Steve Kroft of the Medical College of Wisconsin addressed the antibody testing during a webinar Tuesday hosted by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

"Because the FDA has not been providing oversight of these particular tests as they hit the market, we really do not have any idea how they will perform," Dr. Kroft said. "It will be useful to understand the spread of this virus through the population as well as potentially as we learn more, determine who has some degree of immunity to the virus, and therefore is eligible to return to the workforce."

Snap Logistics in St. Francis is a trucking company that delivers supplies to manufacturers and hospitals. Owner Nate Rupp said the virus has changed their workflow.

"Deliveries that would take maybe five, 10 minutes, now take upwards of half-hour, 45 minutes," Rupp said.

Now 30 of his employees will be getting tested on Thursday.

"Maybe help ease their mind if they've had it if they've been exposed to it," Rupp said.

Wedal hopes these tests provide some comfort, but no matter the results, he still encourages those tested to continue practicing social distancing and all other precautions.

"It's not your get out of jail, go avoid the safer at home aspect of it, but it is part of the answer that might get people back to work sooner," Wedal said.

Right now, the lab is only testing employees from essential businesses and those who are concerned by appointment. Wedal said those that qualify have to be asymptomatic or have never had any symptoms. You do not need a doctor's order. If you're interested in getting tested, call the lab at 262-289-1664.

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