First round of antibody testing results released

“I had a fever, sore throat, dry cough, and shortness of breath,” said La Canada Resident Orsi Crawford.

She wondered if the symptoms she had in January might have been COVID-19. She went to Integrated Medicine Specialist Dr. Michael Hirt for a rapid antibody test. A simple finger prick and less than five minutes later came her results, negative.

“May initial reaction a little disappointment because had I had a positive test I would have had the peace of mind knowing that I had the virus and I had gone through it.”

But a USC antibody study that randomly tested 863 people in L.A. County found a 4% infection rate. The study’s leader Dr. Neraj Sood explains what it means for L.A.’s overall population.

So if you take a population of 8 million and apply the 4.1% what we get is about 320,000 adults in Los Angeles County who have had a COVID-19 infection before April 9th.

Dr. Hirt has run antibody tests on more than 70 patients in the past week with similar findings.

“We’re seeing between 2-3 percent very similar to the environment and population studies that are being conducted up north and the one that was just released by USC,” said Dr. Hirt.

He agreed to test FOX 11’s Stephanie Stanton because she was sick in February with fatigue and a persistent cough and wondered if she had COVID-19.

“Shall we do this... You ready... Ok,” said the doctor.

A simple finger prick to extract her blood then a special solution is added to the test strip. Five minutes later the results are ready.

“I don’t see any signs that you’ve had either an exposure in the past or that you’re fighting coronavirus,” said Dr. Hirt.

“I don’t know, It’s kind of surprising... It’s a little disappointing, said Stanton.

“Disappointment is one of the first reactions that we get from almost all the patients who are negative because people want to have had this because then they know that they are going to be infected in the future it’s not knowing whether I could die or whether this could be a serious infection for me that has people frightened,” said Dr. Hirt.

Currently, insurance doesn’t cover antibody testing for COVID-19. Dr. Hirt charges $99 for the rapid antibody test and consultation.