“The antibody test is really to tell you if you’ve come into contact with COVID in the past,” said Mike Kuzmichas, president of Ichor Blood Services based in Calgary.
This week, the company entered into an agreement with Canabo Medical Clinics, a Toronto-based cannabis clinic, which will allow “drop in clinical test collections,” said Kuzmichas.
The cost is $165, plus HST, which includes the test requisition, blood draw, specimen handling, shipping and a third-party serology test, the company said.
Ichor has also struck a deal with Corrective Health, a walk-in blood clinic in Fredericton, NB. Customers can get the antibody testing done on site.
“I was positive for long-term and short-term antibodies,” said Patti Palamarek, one of Ichor’s customers who paid for the screening.
“It feels good to be a little bit protected.”
But medical experts urge consumers to be cautious about relying on antibody testing.
“We have to be very careful about interpreting the results of an antibody test at an individual level,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases expert at Toronto General Hospital.
“To date, they’re just not as accurate as we would like them to be to inform people of whether they had a prior COVID-19 infection.”
Ichor targets the testing to three groups: curiosity-seekers, those who have travel plans and may want or need to prove their fitness to travel, and companies screening employees for a return to the workplace.
Still, the company acknowledges the limitations of the testing.
“A positive antibody (test) result does not give you superpowers. It does not exempt you from public health regulations, it does not mean you’re immune–the scientific community hates the term immune.”