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COVID-19 antibody testing could be beneficial before vaccination

WBMA Birmingham logo WBMA Birmingham 2/2/2021 Andrew Donley

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, people will have to decide what is right for them.

Doctor Jordan Vaughn with MedHelp 280 recommends the vaccine on a case-by-case basis.

“We have no data and no testing data other than post hoc about people that are getting vaccinated after having infection,” Dr. Vaughn said.

He said he has seen that antibodies and the vaccine do not mix well.

That is why he tests certain patients for antibodies if they are interested in getting the vaccine.

He says about 25 percent of his patients who have antibodies did not previously test positive for the virus or even know they had it.

Dr. Vaughn said his strategy is to help conserve vaccines for those who need it.

“Getting the vaccine after you’ve already had a good amount of neutralizing antibodies is not necessarily the best use of the vaccine and not necessarily the best for the patient either,” Dr. Vaughn said.

He said higher levels of antibodies are likely leading to a stronger immune response to the vaccine -- which he says is not necessarily life-threatening -- but can be harsh.

ABC 33/40’s Andrew Donley tested positive for the virus in June 2020 and visited MedHelp 280 in February to get the antibody test.

The clinic offers two types of tests: A rapid test and an in-house blood test.

The rapid test is a finger poke for a small amount of blood and the in-house test requires a blood draw to determine how many you have.

Donley’s test showed antibodies and -- even seven months post infection -- they are still very high, according to Doctor Vaughn.

According to MedHelp administration staff, both tests cost about $40 each; however, they said they are covered under most health insurance policies. 


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