MARSHALL (KMHL) – Avera Marshall says it is starting to offer direct-to-consumer COVID-19 antibody testing at its clinic in Marshall.

While the testing isn’t good to determine active COVID-19 infection, Avera says it is good for determining the spread of the virus through the community over time.

“Antibody tests – also known as IgG or serology tests – may detect whether someone has been exposed to COVID-19. Antibodies are proteins in the blood that the body’s immune system uses to fight viruses and bacteria,” said David Basel, MD, physician and Vice President of Avera Medical Group Clinical Quality.

Avera says the tests are not covered by health insurance, and cost $80. But if someone wants a test the organization says they don’t need to make an appointment, they can walk into the Avera QuickLab location by using the Charles Street entrance on the lower level of the Bruce Street Campus. Testing hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Avera Marshall Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steven Mesiter says though there is still a lot they don’t know about COVID-19 antibodies.

“We don’t know if the antibody response that our body is forming confers immunity for a week, a month, lifelong, we just don’t know,” said Meister. “There are some early studies, but early studies are just early, they’re not completely valid, we don’t have the be all, end all, know.”

Avera says the tests could yield three possible results:

  • Reactive (positive):  suggests but does not confirm the person might have been exposed to COVID-19 and has developed an immune response.
  • Equivocal: test shows a small amount of antibodies, but not enough for a “reactive” result.
  • Non-reactive (negative): test shows no exposure.

“Regardless of results, we advise people to continue to protect themselves and others. Wear a mask when out in public, maintain a 6-foot distance from others in public, avoid crowds, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands often,” said Basel.