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UCLA Offers Free COVID-19 Antibody Tests For Blood Donors

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A person undergoes a finger prick blood sample as part of a coronavirus antibody rapid serological test on July 26, 2020 in San Dimas, California. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)
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All donors at UCLA blood drives will now be tested for past exposure to COVID-19.

Dr. Dawn Ward, Medical Director for the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center, says donors expressed interest in getting tested for the antibodies, which may provide immunity to the virus (although that is very much not confirmed yet). Medical researchers are still unsure if antibodies prevent patients from getting re-infected and, if they do, how long that protection might last.

Ward hopes the antibody tests will be an incentive to attract badly needed blood donors.

Donors who have recovered from COVID-19 must be symptom free for at least 28 days before donating blood. Results will be sent in two weeks.

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Note: there is a small chance that even if you test positive for the COVID-19 antibodies, that you could have been infected with the virus, but your body didn't produce antibodies. The test also has potential to produce false-negatives.

UCLA researchers have been conducting a study with 34 patients who recovered from mild cases of COVID-19. Last week, they published the study, which found that antibodies dropped sharply over the first three months after patients recovered from the infection, decreasing by roughy half every 36 days. If sustained at that rate, the antibodies would disappear within about a year.

You can find more info on UCLA's anitbody tests here. To make an appointment to donate plasma or blood, call 310-825-0888 ext 2, or visit uclahealth.org/gotblood.

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