Health officials seek to make testing widely available in the future

While antibody testing for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not currently available in San Luis Obispo County, local health officials say SLO County is positioning itself to have the tests when they become available to California.

“We want antibody testing for our community to give us a better understanding of who may have been infected at some point,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Health Officer. “It will help us understand the level of protection in our community. Unfortunately, we can’t run antibody tests here yet because researchers are still running trials of the test elsewhere.”

There are two different types of tests for COVID-19. One is a nasal swab test currently available in SLO County that can detect whether a person currently has the virus that causes COVID-19. The other is an antibody blood test that is not presently available in SLO County, which can detect whether a person has previously had the virus that causes COVID-19.

There are no antibody tests currently available commercially, but clinical trials of antibody tests are being conducted in California. Antibody testing, which is also often called serologic testing or immunity testing, can reveal whether a person’s immune system has mounted a response to the virus.

“We are eager to get a reliable antibody test to know if large numbers of community residents previously had the virus,” said Dr. Borenstein. “Right now, we can only test whether a person currently has the virus.”

When tests are found to be effective and reliable, they will be more widely available⎯including in SLO County. Local officials are in regular close communication with state and national public health
agencies but do not yet have a specific timeline for when the tests will reach that stage.

For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, visit ReadySLO.org or call the recorded Public Health Information Line at (805) 788-2903. A staffed phone assistance center at (805) 543-2444 is available daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for questions related to COVID-19.

For local, state or national information, visit our COVID-19 page.

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