May 18, 2020

More than 1,000 health care workers sign up for antibody tests in first afternoon

Doctors, nurses and first responders have been signing up since the UA made 250,000 tests available.

Hundreds of Arizona doctors, nurses, and first responders have been signing up for COVID-19 antibody tests developed by the University of Arizona. The university made 250,000 of them available starting Friday.

Dr. Dan Derksen with UA Health Sciences says their online system took over 1,000 test reservations that afternoon. "Yeah I've been getting phone calls all day long from physicians and first responders who're interested in getting the test and starting to sign up and giving us feedback on that," Derksen said Monday afternoon.

The test, which requires a blood sample, detects whether someone has developed antibodies after being being infected by the coronavirus in the past. And, unlike some similar tests on the market, Derksen said it is very accurate.

"It's a true positive, which means that you have had the COVID-19 infection and you've mounted an antibody response to it," Derksen said.

But the meaning of a positive test is still unclear. Those who test positive receive a letter stressing that the result does not mean they are immune to COVID-19, and it doesn't mean that they can't expose others to the disease.

A spokesman for the Tucson Fire Department says anyone who tests positive for antibodies is immediately placed off-duty until they can pass another test showing that they don't have an active infection.

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