DPH offering free Covid-19 antibody tests

The City of El Paso Public Health Department is offering free COVID-19 antibody testing to the community.

“Antibody testing will help provide additional information about how much people have been infected and the degree of community spread. Many people with COVID have mild or no symptoms and they don’t know if they have been infected,” said City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza. “This information will also serve to inform future prevention strategies.”

The free COVID-19 antibody testing, also known as the serology test, is a blood test that checks for specific proteins called Immunoglobulin that the body produces to protect us from infectious diseases.

Individuals who have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 will typically produce IgG antibodies within 2 or 3 weeks after exposure or disease as part of the immune response to the virus.

This type of COVID-19 test DOES NOT detect current infection and it is best used by Public Health to assess the community for individuals who may have had COVID-19 but did not get tested because they declined or did not have symptoms.

The antibody testing service is available by appointment only; those seeking to get tested can do so by registering at www.EPStrong.org under the testing tab to fill out the COVID-19 Antibody Testing Form.

Residents who have tested COVID-19 positive and have recovered from the virus are urged to consider donating plasma to help our community. The objective is to provide patients who have severe cases of the disease with a transfusion of the plasma that contains COVID-19 antibodies which may help them overcome their illness.

“We have to remember that the reason this virus is so severe is that unless we have had the disease, our bodies do not have the proper antibodies to protect us and fight it,” Ocaranza said. “El Pasoans are known for their generous response when faced with a crisis and so we are asking that COVID-19 patients, who have recovered, to consider donating what might be lifesaving plasma.”

Donations can be made via Vitalant, the nonprofit community blood service provider, which is working with hospitals to collect, process and distribute the plasma for treatment in patients with active, serious COVID-19 infections.

Donors must have a prior laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19, either by a positive swab test OR a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. They must also have no symptoms for at least 28 days and meet all other donor eligibility for an automated plasma donation.

More information and the plasma donor questionnaire can be found via this link. Potential donors who have questions may call 866-CV-PLSMA (866-287-5762).

For more information on Vitalant and convalescent blood transfusions click here.