The coronavirus is still slowly spreading across the United States, but additional testing is emerging at Texas A&M that is spurring research and opening up virus screening for more people.
In response to the pandemic, A&M’s Student Health Services is now offering COVID-19 antibody testing for $100 at the A.P. Beutel Health Center on campus between 8:15 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. every weekday.
According to chief medical officer Dr. Tiffany Skaggs, these blood tests detect and give an accurate count of the antibodies produced as a response to the virus.
“Students should consider testing if they had symptoms of COVID-19 at least a week prior to testing, or if they had a known exposure to a COVID-19 infected person at least 1 week prior to testing,” Skaggs said. “Also, if students want to see if they have already had the disease but were not symptomatic, the test could show serologic evidence of past infection.”
Students can request a test via self-referral or clinician order, but should not request a blood test if they are currently exhibiting symptoms.
“If active symptoms are present (such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, new onset taste or smell changes, or new onset diarrhea), then it is appropriate to visit with a telenurse to be scheduled in the Respiratory Clinic,” Skaggs said. “In the Respiratory Clinic, we can perform the PCR testing which detects the virus from a naso-pharyngeal sample.”
Patients coming in for testing will be screened at the door for symptoms and fever and are asked to wear cloth masks to protect themselves and others. Test results are received after 48 to 72 hours.
“We are pleased to do our part for our students, university, and community to test, track, and gain understanding of personal as well as epidemiologic factors of Pandemic,” Skaggs said. “It may be useful in predicting future immunity if research confirms the link antibody levels and immunity. The more we know about this virus, the more we can devise ways to treat and defeat it.”
Students can visit shs.tamu.edu under the laboratory tab for more information.