COVID-19 Antibody Testing: Why Livewell Will Not Be Participating
As we all attempt to traverse this incredibly unfamiliar season of sheltering-in-place and following recommended guidelines for COVID-19 response, uncertainty abounds. News moves very quickly and we are all trying our best to understand what is best and what sources are reliable when considering how best to protect our communities, our families, and the most vulnerable from the dangers of the novel coronavirus.
Here at the Livewell Clinic, we have attempted to go to great lengths to continue to serve and advocate for proactive health, particularly in the case of immunity. We have been staying abreast of both opportunities within the medical community as well as CDC and state health guidelines. Like some of you, we have been aware of the availability of a COVID-19 antibody test for some time. One of our clinical resources has made the antibody test available to us. After a thorough evaluation of the options, we have chosen to not offer the Livewell Clinic as a testing site and wanted to transparently address our considerations.
What is an Antibody Test?
In contrast to the more traditional viral test (the one you’ve heard about more broadly) an antibody test doesn’t test for the presence of the virus in the body, but rather the presence of its competing antibody. When we have been infected with a virus, the body produces a matching defense for that virus, called an antibody, which remains in our system for an indeterminant amount of time, sometimes for our entire life. A functioning antibody test would show if the person being examined had, in the recent past, been infected with its mirror virus; in this case, COVID-19.
Why Are People Talking about the COVID-19 Antibody Test?
Increasing amounts of discussion, both popularly and politically, have emerged regarding the COVID-19 Antibody Test. Part of this is due to its potential applications. In theory, a person who had proven “immunity” to COVID-19 through the presence of the antibody in their system could move more freely in quarantine as their propensity to carry the virus had diminished drastically. The Antibody Test also could potentially add further data points as to the spread of the virus, exploring who may have carried it months in the past, before viral testing become more broadly available. Antibody testing is also an effective tool in the development of vaccines. This role has both attracted positive analysis by those seeking to build a vaccine clinical trial and some negative attention from those who are concerned about a mandated vaccination program.
Why Not Offer the Antibody Test?
At the end of the day, Dr. Zac Watkins and the Livewell leadership team made the measured decision to not offer the antibody test to the public through our clinic. While Livewell has always stood for the importance of testing to enable proactive health decisions, we felt that this particular test is outside the scope of our service model for the following reasons:
- Livewell is not set up for any kind of urgent or emergent care. Outside of our Vitamin C based IV therapies, we generally discourage patients from using Livewell services to fight off viral illnesses. If in the process of offering the Antibody Tests we would come across someone with an active infection, we are not equipped to be their primary or emergent care provider.
- Livewell is not a research facility. The Antibody Test, while produced through defensible science, is still in its early stages and many questions exist about its accuracy and application. We believe strongly in the power of evidence-based research to produce actional medical care but are not organized to participate in that kind of engagement.
- The physical space of the Livewell Clinic has been carefully managed to allow our chronically ill patients to continue to come in and receive care. Our cleaning protocols, entry protocols, and clinical team standards are all built so that we can continue to provide life-changing IV therapy and proactive care within the physical clinic. Introducing potentially infected people into the clinic, no matter how carefully, would unquestionably disrupt our ability to continue to do what we do. And the care of our current patients is our highest priority.
Is the Livewell Clinic taking a position on the accuracy, use, or risks of widespread application of the Antibody Test?
In short, no. While social media and other forums offer wide-ranging speculation on the efficacy of the test and/or how governments should employ it, it is outside the scope of Livewell’s services to speak to such issues. Other providers may come to different conclusions based on their beliefs and/or business models, and that is their decision.
The team at the Livewell Clinic has gone to great lengths to continue to advocate and support proactive health in these challenging times. From the launch of various immunity-focused care services to same-day home delivery of medicines to ensuring the clinic remains a safe place for IV therapy, we are staying focused on what we do best: helping people like you integrate the habits, nutrients, and proactive tools to move toward optimal health. We are privileged to continue this service now and into the future.
Yours in health,
Dr. Zac Watkins
Founder of the Livewell Clinic and the Livewell Method of Proactive Health