My Quick, Easy Experience Getting The COVID-19 Antibody Test

Matt Bigler
May 07, 2020 - 5:24 pm

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There are are two types of coronavirus tests now on the market - one finds out if you have COVID-19 and the other determines if you've had it recently. I volunteered to take the antibody test to see if a recent bout with a chest infection was part of the pandemic.

I remember when I first felt something weird in my chest. It was March 13. 

I was in San Francisco reporting on the impending school closures, and I remember because that's when I first started to feel something weird.

"Your lungs hurt," Elijah remembered.

My son Elijah never got sick.

I never had a temperature and only a mild dry cough, but that pressure in my chest and lungs just wouldn't go away.

"I don’t know (if you had it)," my wife, Jessica Bigler-Uhl, said. "I partly think it was more stress related, because nothing ever got any worse."

At the time, I had one telemedicine appointment with my regular physician, who told me my symptoms weren’t severe enough to get tested for the coronavirus. I did a lung capacity test, which came back just fine.

This week, I had a virtual office visit with Dr. James Wantuck. He's a doctor with Plushcare - a San Francisco company that specializes in virtual medicine. After listening to my symptoms, he ordered an antibody test for me, what's called the Abbott test, which they are giving basically to anyone who wants one.

Matt Bigler took an antibody test at an East Bay facility.
Matt Bigler/KCBS Radio

"People just like you want to know whether they had it and that’s what the antibody test does," Dr. Wantuck told me. "If you’d told me 'I’ve been locked in my house in Kansas since January,' then I would say you probably don’t need the test."

The next day I went to a Labcorps testing facility in the East Bay for a very fast blood draw.

Amazingly, there was only one person waiting in front of me.

The test is covered by insurance, but make sure you go to a testing facility that is in your network. After settling a minor insurance issue, I was rolling up my sleeve.

The actual blood draw takes mere seconds.

We should know in 24-to-48 hours if I have the antibodies for COVID-19 and, if so, what that means going forward.