On April 5, CVS Health announced the availability of COVID-19 antibody testing at MinuteClinic locations across the country. The point-of-care test can help identify if a patient has previously been infected with COVID-19 and the results are available within 15 minutes. A COVID-19 antibody test is not intended to diagnose a current infection. MinuteClinic is the retail medical clinic of CVS Health, with approximately 1,100 locations inside select CVS Pharmacy stores in 33 states and Washington, D.C.
“After successfully piloting the antibody test offering at more than 100 MinuteClinic locations earlier this year, and recently launching the service at all of our clinic locations in Massachusetts and Texas, we have seen steady interest in affordable COVID-19 antibody testing,” said Sharon Vitti, president of MinuteClinic. “Being able to provide patients with easy access to a rapid antibody test at MinuteClinic locations to help determine previous infection is a natural extension of our ongoing commitment to supporting Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
US COVID-19 Testing Statistics
As of March 22, 2021, the United States had performed the third most COVID-19 tests per one million populations among the countries most severely impacted by the pandemic. The U.S. has conducted almost 390 million COVID-19 tests in total.
Testing is the key to controlling the virus. The World Health Organization sent a clear message to all countries in March 2020: test, test, and test. The more tests that are conducted, the easier it becomes to track the spread of the virus and reduce transmission. Many countries followed the advice, identifying a greater number of cases at an earlier stage, isolating infected individuals, and limiting the spread of the disease to others. International travel bans have returned in recent months following the discovery of virus mutations. Essential travel is permitted, but passengers must expect to provide a negative COVID-19 test.
Countries around the world are making widespread testing a key part of their plans to exit lockdown. However, the global demand for antibody test kits has been huge. The kits are used to identify antibodies in a person’s blood sample. The presence of antibodies means the individual has been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and developed antibodies to help fight it. Antibody tests are important in detecting infections in people who are asymptomatic, i.e., showing few or no symptoms. Asymptomatic carriers may have unwittingly contributed to the rapid spread of the disease.
COVID-19 Antibody Testing at MinuteClinic
COVID-19 antibody testing at MinuteClinic is an extension of CVS Health’s overall commitment to providing convenient access to COVID-19 testing and will also be offered in select CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide in the coming weeks. CVS Health also currently offers COVID-19 diagnostic testing using molecular- or antigen-based tests to identify an active infection at more than 4,800 CVS Pharmacy locations, nearly 1,000 of which provide rapid-result testing. To date, the company has administered more than 15 million COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
During the visit, a member of the MinuteClinic care team performs the antibody test, which includes the collection of a finger stick blood sample, and reviews results with the patient. The COVID-19 antibody test looks for the presence of antibodies generated by a previous infection with the virus.
“These tests can help patients determine if they may have been infected with COVID-19 in the past,” said Angela Patterson, chief nurse practitioner officer, MinuteClinic, vice president, CVS Health. “While these tests have been found to be very accurate, patients need to keep in mind that it can take the body up to two weeks to generate enough antibodies to be detected by a test, so testing too soon after a suspected infection may not yield an accurate result.”
COVID-19 antibody testing costs $38 and payment is due at the time of service. Payment can be made using cash or credit, debit, HSA or FSA cards. If a patient has Medicaid, MinuteClinic may bill this insurance based on Medicaid requirements. COVID-19 antibody testing is not yet available in MinuteClinic locations in the state of Nevada, but is coming soon.