By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A Jackson organization is offering to test individuals to see if they have already had the coronavirus and have developed antibodies to it.
Test Teton Now, a nonprofit based in Jackson, said it will begin offering antibody testing at private health care clinics beginning April 30.
An antibody test is not used to determine if someone has an active case of coronavirus. Instead, it reveals whether a person has developed antibodies to the virus after suffering from the symptoms of COVID-19. However, the results do not show whether a person is immune from coronavirus.
Test Teton Now, in a news release, said the testing will help Teton County officials as they make decisions on whether to relax restrictions on businesses and gatherings.
“Test Teton Now, along with public health experts including the Centers for Disease Control, believe testing will be a key element in safely reopening our community while protecting our vulnerable neighbors,” the group said.
Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, said during a news conference Thursday that she agreed the data provided by the tests could be valuable, although she noted that antibody tests have not been approved for diagnosing coronavirus cases.
“Certainly there could be some utility for that in knowing who has been infected with the virus in the past,” she said.
The standard test for coronavirus relies on nasal swabs, while the antibody test uses blood samples.
Test Teton Now said it had acquired the material for 10,000 antibody tests that will be used to test from 8,000 to 9,000 people at a cost of $75 each. First responders will be tested at no cost, as will people who cannot afford the test, Test Teton Now said.
The group, made up of area doctors, scientists, legal professionals and technology leaders, said it is conducting the tests at cost.