Is Publicly Available COVID-19 Antibody Testing the Answer?

Featured Future of Work Health Tech

As businesses continue to try to re-open their doors and resume operations, many states are seeing an increase on confirmed COVID-19 cases.  This makes it even more imperative that companies invest in workplace safety measures.  That means appropriate disinfecting procedures, distancing policies, education, screening, and other means of ensuring safe work environments for employees whose jobs can’t be done from home.

Testing, of course, is the biggest obvious answer.  While breathalyzer-like testing solutions are being developed, which would make it easier to confirm cases, in their absence, widely available antibody testing is the next best thing. 

That’s certainly what Alliant Healthcare believes.  The company is looking to promote safe workplaces by making a 10-minute home antibody test kit available to the public.  Its COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid Test Kit has been granted FDA Emergency Use Authorization and allows individuals to screen themselves for both IgG and IgM strands of the coronavirus at home.  The 12-step test process can ensure workers who want to or need to return to their workplaces, are able to do so safely.

“As a medical manufacturer and producer, we want to be able to provide access to reliable and accurate medical devices amidst this pandemic. Having the ability to test employees before they enter the workplace will help businesses achieve a sense of normalcy by creating safe work environments.”

Kelli Jonas, VP of QA/RA, Alliant Healthcare

According the CDC, antibodies start developing 1-3 weeks after infection.  A positive antibody test presumes an individual has been infected with the virus at some point, but does not mean a current, active infection.  It also notes that infected individuals are necessarily immune from re-infection just because they have the antibodies.

CDC also notes that people with positive antibody tests who aren’t showing any symptoms and have not been around infected individuals are not likely to be currently infected and should be able to participate in normal activities, including work.  They should still take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and others.

Alliant Healthcare says the antibody test requires a simple 12-step process.  In fairness, it’s really even simples, since the instructions include steps like checking expiration date, putting on gloves, and opening the test pouch.  In reality, it’s a simple pin prick, drawing the blood, transferring the sample to the test kit, adding the buffer fluid, then waiting for the results, which takes 10-20 minutes.  Importantly, the instructions note that waiting more than 20 minutes can produce false results, so keeping within the 10-20 minute window is important.

The test detects IgM antibodies – typically associated with the early onset phase of the infection – and IgG antibodies – associated with long-term immunity.  While the company says the tests have been shown to meet the highest accuracy standards, it also says there are a variety of possible results with different significance:

  • Positive for RNA, but negative for both IgM and IgG strands mean the individual may be in the window period of the infection.
  • Positive for RNA and IgM but negative for the IgG strand mean the individual may be in the early stages of infection.
  • Positive for RNA, IgM, and IgG strands mean the individual is in the active phase of infection.
  • Positive for RNA and IgG but negative for IgM mean the individual is in the recurrent stage of infection.
  • Negative for RNA and IgM but positive for IgG mean the individual is past infection and in the recovery stage.

The test kits are being sold through Alliant’s sister company, MediSurge at $18.50 per kit.