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Kodiak doctors weigh possible COVID-19 antibody testing this fall

Antibody testing for COVID-19 has been making headlines over the last few weeks. It’s a form of testing that uses blood droplets to confirm whether you have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus by checking if you have the antibodies associated with the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, says it’s unclear right now whether having the antibodies makes someone immune to the disease. While it’s possible to have had COVID-19 without showing any symptoms, the CDC says for the most part, if you aren’t showing symptoms, it’s unlikely you have an active infection.

Elsa DeHart, a public health nurse in Kodiak says Alaska is still in the early stages of deciding how to implement antibody testing.

“I don’t think the state has decided on a widespread antibody testing. I think that will come down the line,” she said, adding that it might be available this fall. “Our epidemiologists are excited about that.”

In Kodiak, doctors say they’re seeing fewer patients coming in with symptoms asking to get checked, and more people wanting to get tested as a preventative measure.

“We’re certainly to see more employers send people. They’re getting fishing boats ready and somebody just flew in from Minnesota, they did their two week quarantine but before they get on the boat, they want to know, you know, ‘Can I left this guy on my boat safely?'” said Dr. John Koller with the Kodiak Island Ambulatory Clinic.

In cases like this, Kodiak’s medical community says an antibody test wouldn’t be very helpful anyway, since it would only indicate whether the patient had ever been exposed to the coronavirus. While it’s possible for people to continue shedding the virus for weeks after exposure, doctors say being symptom-free after 14 days is a reasonable indicator you’re healthy.