Published 10:08 a.m. MT May 28, 2020 | Updated 3:58 p.m. MT May 28, 2020
Gov. Jared Polis gave an update May 18 on coronavirus testing in Colorado, saying anyone who is symptomatic (and some essential workers) can be tested.
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UCHealth is offering federally authorized coronavirus antibody tests to anyone who wants to know if they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, although the health care system cautions that it remains uncertain whether the presence of coronavirus antibodies prevents reinfection.
UCHealth is also offering coronavirus nasal swab tests to anyone who has coronavirus symptoms. The nasal swab tests, covered by most insurance plans, are $85. That test can determine if someone is currently sick with COVID-19.
Coloradans can schedule an antibody test or nasal swab through an order from a UCHealth provider or by making an account online on My Health Connection and selecting an appointment. UCHealth is charging $100 for the antibody test, which is conducted through a blood draw and is covered by most health insurance plans. The antibody test can determine with a high rate of accuracy whether someone has coronavirus antibodies present in their bloodstream, according to UCHealth.
“Many people have been interested in getting antibody tested because they want to know if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or they want to know if they are possibly immune to COVID-19,” said UCHealth Chief Innovation Officer Richard Zane, who is also the professor and chair of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in a news release. “Unfortunately, for now, the only thing we can tell you is that if you have antibodies, you have been exposed to COVID-19. We cannot tell you yet whether you are immune to it.”
MORE: Coronavirus antibody tests have arrived in Fort Collins. Can you trust the results?
Antibody tests have been a subject of controversy because of misleading marketing from some test providers and an initial lack of government oversight of the tests. The Food and Drug Administration is still scrambling to review hundreds of antibody tests, some of which it ordered removed from the market after it temporarily allowed labs and manufacturers to sell tests without submitting validation data earlier this spring. The Colorado Attorney General’s office issued cease-and-desist orders to several Colorado businesses, including Functional Medicine Center of Fort Collins, alleging false or misleading marketing of the tests.
The antibody tests UCHealth is using are among the few tests the FDA has validated and awarded Emergency Use Authorization. The tests are made by Abbott, Ortho Clinicial Diagnostics and DiaSorin. UCHealth officials expect they’ll yield fewer than 1 in 1,000 inaccurate results.
UCHealth leaders said people shouldn’t assume antibodies will protect them or others.
“Regardless of whether you have antibodies or not, you should not change your behavior,” Zane said. “You should still physically distance from others, wear a mask if appropriate and wash your hands meticulously and often. It’s very important that you do not change your behaviors because we don’t know if the presence of antibodies will prevent you from potentially getting sick from COVID-19 again.”
Jacy Marmaduke covers government accountability for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support stories like this one by purchasing a digital subscription to the Coloradoan.
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