Beginning Tuesday, May 5, 2020 McKinley Health Center will offer COVID-19 antibody testing. Turnaround of results is expected to be within one week. Fortunately, the campus has had very few confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and no known hospitalizations.

The purpose of this update is to provide general information about COVID-19 antibody tests and how students can access this service. The COVID-19 IgG antibody test requires a blood sample. It generally becomes positive and remains positive approximately two weeks after COVID-19 infection. The COVID-19 RT-RNA test is generally obtained from nasopharyngeal secretions and is a test for active infection of the virus.

After having a viral infection such as COVID-19, our immune system responds with the production of antibodies. Often these antibodies remain detectable for a prolonged period. At this time, it is unclear if this will be true for COVID-19 infection. With many other viruses, the presence of the antibody appears to confer immunity to the virus, but this is not yet known with the COVID-19 virus. To further complicate matters, the presence of the antibody may not confirm you had COVID-19, as there is known cross-reactivity with other coronavirus.  This will result in a false-positive test. 

The COVID-19 antibody test which will be provided is 100% sensitive (positive test in people with COVID-19) and 99.6% specific (negative test in people who never had COVID-19) when tested on a population of known, documented COVID-19 positive people. Without knowing if you ever had COVID-19, the presence of the COVID-19 antibody does not provide certainty of a COVID-19 infection. On the other hand, a negative level tells you either you have not been exposed to COVID-19 or your exposure was too recent (within the last 14 days) and your body has not had time to produce the antibody.

The COVID-19 antibody test is a blood test. Students who are eligible for services at the Health Center can obtain this test as follows: 

  1. To obtain the blood test, you must sign an informed consent on your student health portal prior to calling for an appointment. Go to https://mymckinley.illinois.edu, click on the Forms icon, click on Informed Consent for COVID-19 Antibody Testing and complete the form.
  2. Call McKinley Health Center and speak with a nurse at 217-333-2700, who will facilitate the process upon authorization by a McKinley provider.
  3. The test will be scheduled in the laboratory located in the lower level of McKinley.  You will need to arrive at your scheduled time.
  4. Test results will be reviewed by a McKinley provider and communicated to you via secure message in your MyMcKinley portal once they become available (processing times may vary).

Should you have questions, email us at studenthealthcenter@illinois.edu.  We wish you a safe and successful summer and look forward to seeing you back on campus for Fall.

Sincerely,

Robert C. Parker, MD, MBA, FACP
Director, McKinley Health Center

Date: 
Monday, May 4, 2020 - 09:30