AUSTIN, TEXAS (KXAN) — An Austin-area medical clinic has just rolled out 10-minute fingerstick testing for COVID-19. It’s not FDA approved yet, but cars were lined up at the three clinic locations Thursday.
Current FDA approved testing takes days to get results back. This tests allows medical professionals to see if a person has been exposed recently, or weeks ago within minutes.
“It’s not just for people who are sick now, which is what the swab is for,” said Victory Medical Dr. Sarita Prajapati. “It’s are you sick now, were you sick recently, were you sick weeks ago.”
Victory Medical’s doctor says the finger-stick test could give health officials a better idea of the infection rate in the community. The test measures two different antibodies. Antibodies are like tags or memory markers for things we have been expose to, which is how we don’t get sick over and over again.
“There are two types you’re looking for. IGM and IGG. IGM antibodies are the faster produced antibodies. Those are the ones that show recent exposure to the virus.” said Dr. Prajapati. “That’s anywhere from 3 days to a week ago. A lot of those patients may be sick at the time that they present. The other type are the IGG, the memory antibodies. That’s a good test to consider for someone who says, I was kind of sick half way through February. I’m okay now, but it took me a month.”
If people test positive for having the virus right now, based on the 10-minute result, and if they are showng symptoms, the they’d take an additional, FDA approved, nasal swab test at the clinic. If the patient tests positive for exposure only, and isn’t showing symptoms, the that reveals another measure.
“If we could see signs that person had the virus a while ago. That tells that person, you’ve been exposed, you’re now immune,” said Dr. Prajapati. “That could be useful for them later as we talk about getting the work force back into place, and how that is going to look.”
It could also pinpoint even more people who need to stay away from others.
“Do you need to quarentine, even if you don’t feel sick,” said Dr. Prajapati. “What we suspect is that a decent part of the population are those who carry but aren’t having symptoms.”
The FDA has only approved one serology test, or blood test for antibodies so far. That test is not the one Victory Medical is offering. Dr. Prajapati says there’s a backlog for getting that emergency authorization approval.
The FDA issues an update on March 7. about their polity that allows developers of serological tests to market their tests once they performed appropriate evaluation to determinate the test are accurate and reliable.
The test cost $45, and is not yet covered by insurance.