Dr. Jean Stachon: Current Antibody Tests Won’t Reveal if Someone is Immune to COVID-19

Dr. Jean Stachon: Current Antibody Tests Won’t Reveal if Someone is Immune to COVID-19

Sweetwater County Public Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon and Sweetwater County Public Heath Director Kim Lionberger answer questions about antibody testing. Zoom photos

ROCK SPRINGS — If residents are looking for COVID-19 Coronavirus immunity answers, the current antibody test won’t provide that information, according to Sweetwater County Public Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon.

During the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce virtual Zoom luncheon, participants listened to an update from Dr. Stachon and Sweetwater County Public Health Director Kim Lionberger on Coronavirus testing.

Dr. Stachon answered questions about COVID-19 antibody tests, which are blood tests, now available in the county through the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Castle Rock Medical Center, Aspen Medical Center and Cedar’s Health.

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“The catch with the antibody test is they really aren’t FDA approved,” Dr. Stachon said. “The idea is to see if you have been exposed and if you have, are you immune.”

The antibody tests currently available can tell someone if they have not been exposed.

“A negative result is pretty valuable, but a positive test, which everybody seems to want, is not that reliable because it can cross react with other Coronaviruses like the common cold,” Dr. Stachon said.

According to Stachon, even if a resident tests positive with the antibody test, there is still only a 30 percent chance they actually had COVID-19.

As for immunity to COVID-19, Stachon said no one really knows a lot about immunity to COVID-19 and residents can’t get this kind of information from this test. She said even if someone took the antibody test and got a positive, they would still need to treat is as if they haven’t had COVID-19.

However, if someone gets a positive antibody test, they will probably take the nasal COVID-19 test to make sure they in fact have the virus.

“They really don’t mean much,” Lionberger said. “You can’t count on them to say that you are immune and that’s the word that we really need to get out.”

“It’s really a confusing mess at this point,” Stachon said. “When we get some really good FDA approved tests, who knows when in the future, then that will be a lot more useful….”

Lionberger said nasal COVID-19 tests have expanded tremendously since the virus started so anyone experiencing symptoms can be tested for COVID-19, not just those considered in the high risk categories.

Stachon said the county now has the capability to test about 150 people a day. Lionberger said the turnaround time for tests has also improved and it usually takes about 48 hours to get a result back.


What to do if you feel sick: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and are showing symptoms, please call your primary care provider or seek medical attention.

Please follow these tips to slow the spread of this virus:

  • Follow Public Health Orders
  • Practice social distancing of 6 feet or more.
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public settings, especially when physical distancing of at least 6 feet isn’t available.
  • Stay home when sick and avoid other people unless you need medical attention.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Older people and those with health conditions that mean they have a higher chance of getting seriously ill should avoid close-contact situations.
  • Long-term care and healthcare facilities should follow guidelines for infection control and prevention.

For current news, updates, closures and resources, please visit our COVID-19 Coronavirus page here.