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University of Iowa increasing serology testing

More people are being able to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

DES MOINES, Iowa — University of Iowa Health Care announced this week it has added antibody testing in addition to their testing for COVID-19.

Local 5 spoke with doctors at the hospital who say it's a positive step forward, but there's still much more left to learn.

Hospitals are now gaining access to antibody testing. 

These tests are extremely valuable to know if you have contracted COVID-19 in the past.

University of Iowa Health Care is now able to test in large numbers and with high accuracy.

"As state's reopen, and you may see varying rates of infection, this will be helpful in capturing that," Dr. Matthew Krasowski said. 

In-house antibody testing is now available at University of Iowa Health Care.

Krasowski said these serology tests are highly accurate to see if you have been infected with COVID-19 in the past.

"I would say in the March, April time-frame, you saw some tests that came onto the market really quickly and some of those probably weren't as accurate and there were concerns about false-positives. In our hospital, every positive we test by a second method to be sure that we're really confident that it's positive," Krasowski said. 

The testing is quite simple, in that it's conducted by a blood draw and results are able to be detected on the very same day.

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"We could certainly do several hundred a day. We haven't tested nearly that many but it's certainly possible. The nice thing is, because you can do this on equipment that is pretty automated, you can analyze a large number of samples pretty quickly," Krasowski said. 

While antibody testing is valuable to know, there's still much to learn about what it means, so doctors are stressing the importance of staying vigilant even if you've already contracted the virus.

"The big question that's not known though is, does it actually mean you're immune to COVID again? That's the million dollar question that's out there that people want to know," Krasowski said. 

Doctors say the ability to do hundreds of antibody tests a day is especially beneficial when it comes to students, both in grade school or college, when they go back in the fall.

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