A Free Way to Tell If You Have COVID-19 Antibodies

Woman removing her face mask
Photo by mathefoto / Shutterstock.com

Millions of us wonder if we’ve been exposed to the coronavirus without knowing it — especially those of us still waiting to get the vaccine — and the American Red Cross is offering a free way to find out.

When you donate blood, platelets or plasma, the Red Cross will test your blood for the presence of coronavirus antibodies, which form when the body fights infections such as COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Such testing can tell you whether you have had a coronavirus infection in the past — which in turn can indicate that you have potentially developed at least temporary immunity or resistance to the virus.

The Red Cross will be testing all donations between now and May 31. (That end date recently was extended from March 31.) The Red Cross says it will decide whether to extend the policy past May based on how the pandemic progresses.

The Red Cross says donors will receive news about their antibody status about seven to 10 days after they donate.

While a donation can help you get valuable information about your own health, it also can save the lives of others.

The pandemic is still causing “disruptions in blood collections and unprecedented fluctuations in the supply and demand for blood products”, according to a joint statement issued in January by the Red Cross and two other organizations.

If you would like to donate through the Red Cross, you can schedule an appointment by visiting redcrossblood.org or calling (800) RED-CROSS.

The Red Cross emphasizes that it is testing for antibodies, which indicate a previous infection. It is not testing donors to diagnose any current illness. If you do not feel well, the Red Cross urges you to postpone any donation appointment until you feel better.

If you don’t feel comfortable giving blood, you now can receive antibody testing at some retailers.

Kroger, for example, offers rapid antibody testing to customers. Such tests cost $25, and you get the results within 15 minutes, although you do need to make an appointment in advance.

For more about staying safe during the pandemic, check out Money Talks News’ latest coronavirus articles.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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