Freeman doctor discusses benefits of Covid-19 antibody testing

It's being described as a different phase in the fight against Covid-19.

Generic Antibody Testing Graphic

JOPLIN, Mo. – It’s being described as a different phase in the fight against Covid-19.  Right how, healthcare companies and workers are perfecting Covid-19 antibody tests.

Doctors say we can think of these antibody tests as an offensive move against Covid-19, rather than a defensive treatment of symptoms.  Freeman Health System Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dennis Estep talked to us about some of the valuable understanding doctors hope to gather from these antibody tests.

First, here’s some basic understanding.  Doctors say a person can only have antibodies for Covid-19 if that person has been infected with Covid-19, asymptomatic or otherwise.  Antibodies will show up in a person’s system about eight days into recovery.

Doctors say more understanding of how bodies deal with this virus can be beneficial to entire communities.

“As we have a large group that develops antibodies against it, that is what we call a herd immunity,” says Dr. Estep.  “If you have 70 percent of the population actually has exposure to a certain virus and develop antibodies against it, then you have a larger group that has developed immunity, and that is called herd immunity.  That helps develop long-term the ability to keep it from spreading to a group that has never been exposed.”

Doctors say a herd immunity is important in more ways than one.

“Making the herd immunity more of a slower process keeps the curve flattened,” says Estep.  “We try to flatten the curve so that you do get exposure, you do get immunity out there, but you don’t have a big spike like you’ve seen in some of the bigger cities.”

Doctors are urging caution for people who may have antibodies against one form of Covid-19.  Scientists aren’t sure yet if those antibodies will help against mutated forms of Covid-19.

Freeman Health System is using some antibody tests on some patients, and there are discussions of more widespread testing in the community.