AU Health develops antibody testing, ready for patients


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The fight against coronavirus continues right here at home. Experts at Augusta University Health are working around the clock and are starting antibody tests for patients.

Researchers in the Core Lab have developed a specific antibody test to get a better understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic. The test results reveal if a patient has already had the virus. It does not determine if you currently have COVID-19.

Dr. Brandy Gunsolus, Pathology Utilization, said, “You never want to do testing just because ‘I want to know, I’m interested.’ And that goes not just for this test but for all laboratory testing.”

Dr. Brandy Gunsolus and her team are testing peoples’ blood with a purpose. 

She said, “A lot of those first tests were testing for just coronavirus antibodies not specifically for the SARS CoV-2 antibody.”

Your body releases antibodies to fight against infections. The Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody offers some immunity to SARS Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

“We still don’t know how much immunity that is. It could be just for a few months, it could be for a year. Research is still ongoing but at least we know that you had the disease,” explained Dr. Gunsolus.

The antibody testing is done by hand and specimens are run through a medical instrument.

Dr. Gunsolus said, “If you test with one of those other tests and you come up positive, did you have SARS CoV-2 or did you have a common cold? You don’t know because there are four other coronavirus strains that are circulating in the US, for decades. So, that’s what separates our test from a lot of the other ones that are out there.”

She further explained the newly developed antibody test is not for everyone.

“It’s more for testing those that are having ongoing issues. Had a viral illness here recently and maybe you didn’t qualify to get the PCR test but now you’re having some lingering issues. Might have some lingering respiratory issues. New-onset lung disease or kidney disease issues. It would be good speaking with the doctor about getting the antibody test because that could point to why you are having those new issues.”

Right now the antibody test is only available for AU Health patients but Dr. Gunsolus hopes to roll out the new antibody test to the general public by Memorial Day. Test results get back within 24 hours.

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