Do you wonder if you already have COVID-19 (coronavirus) antibodies? Many people do, and the only way to find out is through an antibody test. Vitalant, a local blood service provider, is now testing each person donating blood for COVID-19 antibodies. As a result, if you complete a successful donation you can receive this FDA-approved test. It shows if your immune system has COVID-19 antibodies regardless of any symptoms. Most importantly for blood donors, there is no charge for this test.
What are COVID-19 antibodies?
Basically, antibodies are proteins helping fight off infections. Furthermore they are part of the body’s immune response and not the virus itself, so antibody testing cannot diagnose a current COVID-19 infection. To tell if you have an active infection requires a nose or throat swab test, instead. Need a test? Then call your medical provider. Or if you are in Washoe County, you can call the Health District 24/7 at 775-328-2427.
Antibody tests can tell if someone had a past COVID-19 infection. However, this test does not ensure future protection against the virus.
As a result of having COVID-19 antibodies, you may be eligible to donate plasma to help others with the disease. Currently blood plasma can be given to patients battling COVID-19 to help their body fight the illness. For more information on plasma donations click here.
4 Things to remember before giving blood:
- Face coverings (or masks) are required for all donors, so please bring one with you.
- Do not donate if you are feeling unwell. Stay home or see a doctor, if necessary.
- If you have lived with or been in close contact with someone with, or suspected of having COVID-19 in the past 4 weeks, you cannot donate.
- Donating blood is safe. Keep in mind, COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, so you cannot get it by donating blood or getting a transfusion.
According to Vitalant, someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds. And although nearly 40 percent of people in the U.S. are eligible to donate blood, only 10 percent actually do. Each donation can potentially save three lives. Equally important, blood has a shelf life, so it’s important to continuously replace the supply.
Blood is always a need for our community, especially with the current pandemic. Because people with type O blood are universal donors, meaning they can safely give blood to all blood types, they are greatly encouraged to donate. According to the American Red Cross, nearly 45% of people in the U.S. have type O blood. Interesting to know the proportion is higher among Hispanics (57%) and African Americans (51%).