You can now get a Covid antibody test at a Dis-Chem drive-through station

Business Insider SA
  • You can now get a Covid-19 antibody test at Dis-Chem drive-through testing stations for R380.
  • If you test positive,  it is "very likely" that you have had the disease.
  • But that may not make you immune to future infections.
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Dis-Chem now offers Covid-19 antibody tests at its drive-through testing stations.

The test, priced at R380, will show whether it was "very likely" that a person had Covid-19 and developed an immune response, the pharmacy group says.

Unlike the Covid-19 nasal swab test, also offered by Dis-Chem (for R850 each), the antibody test cannot necessarily detect active cases of Covid-19. The antibody test should start to pick up antibodies from fourteen days after a person started experiencing symptoms related to the coronavirus.

But even if the antibody test shows that you may have had the coronavirus, scientists are still not sure whether you will be immune to future infections.

Coronavirus antibodies dwindled to undetectable levels after just two or three months for 40% of asymptomatic people and 13% of symptomatic people, according to a recent study.

"Given the current level of knowledge about SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests, it is important to stress that regardless of your test result, patients must continue to apply basic non-pharmaceutical interventions (hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing of masks)," said Lizeth Kruger, Dis-Chem’s national clinic manager.

Patients should expect results for the antibody testing via SMS with 24 to 48 hours. 

In July, Dis-Chem had to shut its Covid-19 testing stations because it was struggling with a backlog in getting results from testing labs, amid a spike in coronavirus cases, particularly in Gauteng.

It re-opened the stations in August as the backlog cleared, and given a drop in volumes, it is no longer necessary to register and book a slot before arriving at a testing drive-through site.

"The testing system is now running smoothly," Kruger said. 

In August, after a period of some confusion and delays, health minister Zweli Mkhize finally announced that antibody testing was legal in South Africa. Dis-Chem has partnered with Lancet Laboratories for the antibody testing.

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