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Essentia Health launches serology testing to look for antibodies


Essentia Health started serology testing amid the COVID-19 pandemic as of Friday, April 24. The tests will be sent to Mayo Clinic laboratories for processing. Work is being done to also have processing capacity within an Essentia Health lab within the next couple of months.

The blood-based test looks for the presence of antibodies, which are produced by the immune system in response to infections, and could be helpful in determining if a patient has had recent or prior infection with SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus of COVID-19.

“It’s very important that everyone understand this test does not currently tell us anything reliable about a person’s overall immunity from COVID-19,” Dr. Amanda Noska, an Essentia Health infectious disease physician, stated in a news release.

Antibodies can be detected about eight to 11 days post-symptom onset for many patients, with the vast majority of patients having detectable antibodies at day 14.

“We should not assume that a positive antibody test means the person is immune to COVID-19 based on the available data out there today. … The medical community will gain more insight on the utility of this testing in the upcoming months,” Dr. Elena Rodgers-Rieger, Essentia Health physician chair of lab medicine and pathology, said in the news release.


Patients first schedule a virtual video visit with their provider to determine if an order for a blood draw for the test should be placed. When the results are back, the doctor who ordered the test provides an interpretation of what the results mean given their specific scenario.

Serology testing is only for detecting antibodies to the virus. The serology test is not recommended for determining return-to-work status at this time, according to officials.

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