New antibody blood tests will be available this weekend to Oahu residents who wish to find out whether they’ve had a previous COVID-19 viral infection.

The Hawaii Department of Health has not endorsed antibody testing for the new coronavirus, but Honolulu County officials are supporting the testing initiative.

Antibody blood tests are not used to diagnose whether a person is currently infected with COVID-19. Rather, a positive test indicates that a person has antibodies in their blood that likely resulted from a previous COVID-19 infection.

It’s unclear, however, whether antibodies provide immunity against a secondary infection.

Volunteers from the the COVID Command Mobile Unit, led by Dr. Scott Miscovich, screen Hawaii residents in their cars when they showed up for the free drive through testing event in Wahiwa,HI on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. (Ronen Zilberman photo Civil Beat)
Volunteers from the COVID-19 Command Mobile Unit led by Dr. Scott Miscovich of Premier Medical Group Hawaii screen Hawaii residents in their cars as they arrive for free drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Wahiawa. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2020

Depending on when someone was infected and the timing of the test, the test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For people who wish to find out whether they are currently infected with the virus, the nose swab tests used to diagnose COVID-19 will also be offered at the drive-thru testing events alongside the new antibody blood tests.

Testing at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex will be offered on Saturday, May 16. Testing at Kakaako Waterfront Park will be offered on Sunday, May 17. Testing at both locations will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The testing events are offered by Premier Medical Group Hawaii. The group is responsible for giving about 10,000 COVID-19 tests, or roughly a third of all tests statewide, according to Dr. Scott Miscovich.

For the new blood antibody tests, Premier Medical Group Hawaii encourages people in the following categories to get tested:

  • People who previously tested positive for COVID-19, as well as their family members and close contacts
  • Healthcare workers and first responders
  • Front line tourism industry workers with direct exposure to visitors
  • Anyone who has never been tested for COVID-19 and has had an unexplained respiratory illness since January 2020

A doctor at the site will determine who will be tested.

The blood antibody tests will be free if they are covered by the patient’s insurance. A charge of $40 will be made to each patient without insurance or to patients whose insurance does not cover the test.

The nose swab tests used to diagnose COVID-19 are free.

For more information, contact Premier Medical Group Hawaii at 808-304-8816 or 808-367-6020.

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