Sedgwick County Health Department discusses antibody testing, negative test results

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 6:51 AM CDT
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Antibody testing has a growing interest, but is it reliable? Sedgwick County Health Department and the CDC say antibody testing isn't reliable yet, and testing for active cases is a bigger concern.

Antibody testing is not FDA approved, but it is cleared for emergency use. The concern is the possibility of false positives. Researchers have nor had enough time or data to determine the test's accuracy, and researchers cannot yet confirm that antibodies protect you from contracting the virus again. Sedgwick County Health Department director Adrienne Byrne says anyone who tests positive for antibodies or anyone who recovers from COVID 19 should still use PPE.

"It's not been around long enough in the U.S. or even in the world to have enough time to know for sure that we can't get reinfected so we don't know that we're immune to it once we get it," Byrne says.

The CDC does not currently recommend using antibody testing to determine if people can return to work or if groups, such as schools, dorms or correctional facilities can be together.

As of Tuesday morning, the total number of active cases of COVID-19 in Sedgwick County is 148 according to

the county's website.

Out of more than 15,000 tests, only 601 tests came back positive. The Sedgwick County Health Department says the negative results show there are other illnesses in the community.

The health department wants to remind everyone to continue to use safety precautions. A negative viral test result only means you don't have the virus at that specific point in time. It does not show immunity. You can still contract the virus. Byrne says people are hesitant to test for COVID because they don't want to quarantine for two weeks. She encourages anyone with symptoms to get tested. Byrnes says it's only about a 10 percent chance that it's actually COVID-19.

Byrne says many people in the community claim they had COVID-19 in 2019 before the first confirmed cases of the virus was reported in the world. She says it was not COVID, but another illness that has similar symptoms.

"It's not just COVID 19," Byrne says. "There's a lot of other viruses and the amount of negatives we're getting through testing people shows that even if you're ill, there's other things besides COVID."

If you would like to get tested for COVID-19, call United Way at 211. You will go through a symptom screening process and can get a referral to one of the testing sites.

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