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Antibody tests show majority of Lubbock has not been infected and remains susceptible

The antibody test, which is conducted through blood draw, tests for the IGG antibodies.
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The antibody test, which is conducted through blood draw, tests for the IGG antibodies.

When Bryce White got the results from his antibody test showing he did have COVID-19 at some point, he wasn’t all that surprised.

He recalls that around the time of spring break, three of the four people in his office tested positive for coronavirus. Having been the only one that didn’t wind up getting sick, when antibody testing became available, he and his primary care physician agreed it would be a good idea for him to get tested.

Antibody testing became available in Lubbock in the beginning of May. We still don’t have many answers about what our bodies can do with these antibodies, like do antibodies provide immunity to COVID-19? And if so how long does that last?

But there have been a few scientific breakthroughs recently. One study shows monkeys that were infected with the virus and recovered, did not get sick again when re-exposed. And another suggests that antibodies from llamas may provide some defense against the coronavirus. On a more local level, Dr. Michael Robertson from Covenant Health says, these tests have shown that we’re not in the clear yet.

“for Lubbock county it’s about 1.9 people per thousand have been infected with coronavirus or COVID-19. We’re seeing a similar sort of ratio with these positive antibody tests,” he says.

Robertson reports that Covenant Health has tested 2,295 people, and have had 42 positive results. According to Dale Albracht , MT(ASCP), UMC Chemistry/Processing/Reference Lab Manager, between April 28 and May 25, their clinic has performed 1752 IgG antibody tests with 18 positive results. He explains that this ratio shows that the vast majority of the population in Lubbock county have not had the virus, and therefore are still susceptible to it. “So that’s why it’s important for us to continue with social distancing.”  

“What’s interesting is that the three that tested positive all had different symptoms,” White says. One had gastrointestinal issues. One had symptoms related to upper respiratory issues, fatigue and a lack of appetite. The third tested positive for the flu, strep throat and later COVID-19. “It actually made me skeptical that they were going to test positive for the coronavirus because it didn’t line up.”

Meanwhile, White never showed symptoms of having the virus. In fact, the last time he recalls being sick was in December. Even still, he self-quarantined for two weeks, occasionally seeing his immediate family—who are also planning to get tested. “I could see how this virus could have been here earlier than people have said. And then I could also see that I just had it and was asymptomatic,” White says.

Dr. Robertson agrees that there is a possibility that the virus was in Lubbock earlier than we initially thought. Considering the realization that it had arrived much earlier in California and Washington state, it wouldn’t be a surprise, he says.

White looks at his positive results as an opportunity to give back. He’s planning to donate his anti-body rich plasma to help those now struggling with COVID-19 and possibly provide their bodies some defense. “It puts me in a unique position to help…I was happy to hear that there’s going to be an option to actually do something for the community.”

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