Lee's Summit lab now offers COVID-19 antibody testing

Posted at 9:04 PM, May 07, 2020

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — A Lee's Summit clinical specialty lab is now able to process thousands of samples of antibody tests for COVID-19.

Viracor Eurofins specializes in infectious diseases testing. Its scientists developed a coronavirus test in March.

Now, the lab officially began testing samples Thursday for antibody tests.

"Since we know that early on in the pandemic, we didn’t have enough testing to go around, there’s no way to know how many people have actually had the virus unless we go back and look for a sign that they had it two months ago or three months ago," Michelle Altrich, the company's president, said. "That is what antibody testing can do for us."

Antibodies are proteins the body makes to attack a virus.

If someone has a certain antibody, it could mean that they either had a vaccine for the virus or were infected with the virus in the past, whether they knew it or not.

Doctors warn it remains unclear whether coronavirus antibodies will protect patients from future infections, but it still may be good information to have but only if the tests are accurate.

"Making sure if the test is positive, you really have had the disease," Dr. Dana Hawkinson with the University of Kansas Health System told 41 Action News on Tuesday. "And if it’s negative, you really haven’t. We need to make sure the results you get as individual by this lab is fully accurate."

Viracor's test has been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is awaiting approval under the Emergency Use Authorization.

The company can process about 2,000 to 2,500 tests per day. According to the company, the test showed a specificity of 99.1% after onset of a COVID-19 infection.

"It can give us an idea of what really is the prevalence of the infection and that will help managing the pandemic at a very large scale," Altrich said.

Editor's note: An earlier version of the story indicated the test had received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but it remains pending.