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New screening tool for coronavirus now available in San Antonio

CHRISTUS Health is now offering a new test that can determine if you have been infected with coronavirus, or whether you might carry protective antibodies.

SAN ANTONIO — A new test is now being used in San Antonio that can show whether someone has been infected with coronavirus - and who might carry protective antibodies.

CHRISTUS Health says it is offering the screening tool to some patients, physicians, nurses and others on the frontlines. The test results are ready in about 10 minutes.

“Beginning today, we are adding the unprecedented additional layer of antibody screening to help survey for asymptomatic COVID-19 infections among patients and caregivers,” Dr. Sam Bagchi, CHRISTUS Health’s EVP and Chief Clinical Officer said.

CHRISTUS Health said it is the first in the San Antonio area to offer this new screening tool.

In a news release, CHRISTUS Health said the testing kits were assessed for the last several weeks and then sent to their hospitals and ambulatory sites across the U.S. and Latin America.

A few weeks ago, Dr. Harvey Fineberg, a Harvard University professor wrote an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine saying a test like this would have a huge impact.

“This would be a game-changer in restarting parts of the economy more quickly and safely,” Fineberg wrote.

CHRISTUS Health said the test will also be used on "hospitalized patients that the clinical team believes may have been infected with COVID-19, as well as patients who are scheduled for an urgent surgery."

“We know that, regardless of COVID-19, heart attacks and strokes have not stopped. We need to be able to treat people who urgently need to be in an operating room,” said Dr. Bagchi. “With the availability of an antibody test, we can test anyone who comes in for an urgent surgery. This will allow us to reliably know if a patient has COVID-19 before they start having symptoms or might normally be tested.”

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