LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Pharmacies inside Kroger stores in Arkansas and nationwide are now offering rapid antibody tests to see if you have previously been exposed to COVID-19.
The FDA-authorized test provides results within 15 minutes, using a small drop of blood from a prick on the finger.
"So many patients are asymptomatic with COVID-19, don't even know they have it. A lot of people have been exposed at this point, so it's good to double-check," Terra Swaim said.
Swaim is the pharmacy manager at Kroger in the Heights, where she is now doing rapid antibody tests for customers. No appointment or insurance is needed.
"It is a 25 dollar test. You can pay out of pocket, or put on your FSA or HAS card," she said.
The test is looking for two different antibodies your body creates once you've been infected and recovered; IgG and IgM antibodies.
"IgM antibodies are the most recent antibodies that your body produces and that’s going to be from a recent exposure. After that point, they wane off and IgG antibodies are present, and that just means it’s been a longer exposure," Swaim said.
However, Swaim says these antibodies are only good for about three months. Research is still underway to determine how long antibodies are present following COVID-19 infection.
"If you had it more than three months ago, it's probably not going to show up on the test," she said.
This test will also not diagnose you with an active infection. But, if your test comes up positive on both antibodies, Swaim said this is a red flag.
"You're potentially positive, so we would just direct you to urgent care or UAMS to get an actual COVID-19 test," she said.
Regardless of your result from the antibody test, Swaim said it's still important to get an actual COVID-19 PCR or antigen test if you believe you may be sick or were exposed recently.