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Some Ralphs pharmacies offering rapid COVID-19 antibody testing

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Posted at 7:08 PM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 02:12:53-04

If you want to know whether you've had COVID-19, there's a new antibody test that gives you results in about 15 minutes.

Ralphs is the first retailer in the United States to offer rapid antibody testing. It's a finger-prick blood test that's done at the pharmacy for just $25.

If you're curious if you've previously had COVID-19, chances are you may take an antibody test.

"I got one because I was actually pretty ill at the very end of February," said Kayla Brown of Paso Robles.

Local blood donors are also getting tested for antibodies with results arriving in about a week.

"It's not something I probably would have sought out just, you know, on my own but because they do it as standard practice when you donate blood, that was how I found out about it," said Hilary Graves of Creston.

There's now a new way to find out if you've been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

"It's a very simple test," said Joe Rosilez, Ralphs Los Osos Pharmacy Manager.

Called a rapid antibody test, the FDA-approved testing is available at two Central Coast Ralphs pharmacy locations - the stores in Los Osos on Los Osos Valley Road on Carrillo Street in the City of Santa Barbara.

A pharmacist will take a sample of blood from your finger and add it to a solution. After 15 minutes, results are in.

The Los Osos pharmacy manager says the accuracy rate is pretty high.

"I do know it's above 90 but I do want to specify or clarify that it's not a quantitative test so we don't know how much antibody you have, it's just that you have an antibody," Rosilez said.

Santa Barbara County Public Health says there are a lot of variables when it comes to antibody testing in general.

"Part of the challenge that we are having is that there are many unknowns," said Paige Batson, Santa Barbara County Public Health Deputy Director of the Community Health Division. "The biggest unknowns are the fact that how long individuals will have immunity. Is it 90 days? Is it 6 months? We don't know that. It's too early to tell."

People who believe they may have been previously infected with COVID-19 and are not currently experiencing symptoms can take the test.

"Our waiver allows anybody over the age of 9," Rosilez said.

The Ralphs pharmacy in Los Osos recommends that you make an appointment to get a rapid antibody test.

The test was first authorized by the FDA for emergency use back in July.