Wonder whether you’ve had COVID-19, but you don’t want to leave the house to get blood drawn for antibody testing? Now you don’t have to.
Sylvia Sandoval and her husband Eddie are providing the service through their Fresno company O Labs, which they had set up earlier this year to provide testing work for insurance companies.
“A lot of people are working, so they can’t make it to a center when they have to go home and take care of their kids.” — O Labs owner Sylvia Sandoval
Before the coronavirus pandemic arrived, Sylvia Sandoval, 34, had been drawing blood for paternity and genetics testing. She is certified by the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians to do intravenous therapy and blood withdrawal.
With her fluency in Spanish and English, her skills as a phlebotomist were even more in demand for Central California clients — she draws blood samples from Watsonville to Bakersfield.
O Labs is working with Alliance DNA Laboratory based in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to provide mobile testing.
Antibodies Are a Key Clue
So far Sandoval has done about 50 blood draws for COVID-19 antibody testing, which is done to determine whether the person has had the coronavirus.
The tests look for the presence of antibodies, which are proteins made in response to infections. Antibodies that are detected in the blood of people who are tested after infection show the body’s efforts to fight off a specific infection.
The test is mailed off to the laboratory and takes about three to five days to get results.
People who have requested the at-home testing say they are glad to get the test done on their schedule, Sandoval said.
“They think it’s a good idea,” she said. “A lot of people are working, so they can’t make it to a center when they have to go home and take care of their kids. And a lot of residents are elderly or sick, they might not have a ride, and they don’t want to have to wait in a line and risk exposure.”
Not Testing for Active COVID-19 Infection
The test to determine an active infection requires a sputum sample, which O Labs isn’t ready to do yet, she said.
The cost of the antibody test is $140 in Fresno and up to $165 outside of Fresno, said Sandoval, a Fresno native and McLane High School alumni who works as an LVN at the Madera County Jail and also serves in the California Army National Guard, as does her husband.
She provides receipts so clients can submit claims to their insurance company.
To arrange for a test, call (559) 612-3977.
Not All Tests Are Accurate
Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County’s interim health officer, cautioned that some antibody testing to determine whether a person has been exposed to COVID-19 has produced false negatives.
“Because it usually takes 2-5 weeks for antibodies to show COVID-19 infection, the test does not help with diagnosis of active infection,” he said via email. “Also, there are possibly false negatives if there are not enough antibodies formed after a mild infection. So we do not use this test at this time.”