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Drive-thru COVID-19 antibody test site pops up in Cardiff-by-the-Sea

The COVID Clinic site is not using an FDA-approved antibody test.

SAN DIEGO — A drive-thru COVID-19 testing site now is operating in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, offering finger-stick antibody testing and results while you wait.

Andrew Schnydrig was one of the first patients to get a COVID-19 antibody test Monday morning on the campus of Mira Costa Community College on Manchester Avenue.

“It was a pinprick and within 10 minutes I had the results,” said Schnydrig.  

His blood test came back negative.

“I do not have COVID at this time with a 90% certainty, nor has my body developed antibodies against COVID so I am at normal risk,” he said.

Schnydrig had to preregister to get the test at covidclinic.org.

The site is offering both nasal-swab testing that takes about three days to get test results, as well as the finger-stick antibody blood test with results on the spot.

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“I came out of curiosity to see if I had had the virus already,” said Schnydrig.

Patients have to pay with a credit card, no insurance is accepted through the website. COVID Clinic advises patients to submit the invoice to their health insurance provider, without any guarantee of coverage.

The finger-stick antibody test is $75. The nasal-swab test is $125.

The antibody blood test is supposed to tell you if you already have had COVID-19 and recovered.

“COVID Clinic has done everything it can to use the highest quality tests,” said Matt Collins, a spokesperson for the Orange County-based company.

The spokesperson said COVID Clinic has done its own testing to verify the accuracy of its blood tests.

“We have actually gone back to patients that we know tested positive and were willing to support our research, and we found that the antibody test was also positive on many of those patients,” Collins said.

But the County of San Diego health department said COVID Clinic is using an antibody test developed in China and it is not FDA approved.

“A positive test might not mean it's positive. A negative test might not mean its negative. And this is actually true of a lot of these serological tests,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, the county’s director of epidemiology.

“The exact role of this test really needs to be taken with a grain of salt,” McDonald said.

Last month, the federal government gave the green light for labs to make these types of antibody tests available to the public without FDA approval, because of the pandemic emergency.

Currently, there is only one FDA approved antibody test available, which is made by Cellex. COVID Clinic is not using the Cellex test at its drive-thru site, county officials said.

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