Got COVID-19 antibodies? Donate blood and find out

Here’s an extra incentive to contribute blood to sick people who need it.

The next time you donate to the UCLA Blood & Platelet Center , staff will screen your blood for antibodies to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Effective immediately, the test will be offered for a limited period at the center’s facilities in Westwood and all UCLA community blood drives.

“We are offering the antibody test as a benefit to all UCLA blood donors,” said Dr. Dawn Ward , the center’s medical director. “The screening determines whether you were previously exposed to the coronavirus. It does not determine whether you currently have COVID-19.”

Offered a single time per person, the new test will detect COVID-19 antibodies — proteins that help your immune system fight the infection. You will receive a confidential result from a secure UCLA email server approximately three weeks after donation.

“It’s unclear whether having antibodies to COVID-19 can shield you from reinfection or how long protection may last,” said Ward. “We strongly recommend that you wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing to protect yourself from contracting and spreading the virus.”

If you test positive for coronavirus antibodies, you will be eligible to donate convalescent (antibody-containing) plasma to a UCLA clinical trial helping hospitalized COVID-19 patients fight off the infection.

Still worried that you may have COVID-19? A nasal or throat swab is required to test for active infection. These tests are available at no cost throughout Los Angeles County. Your doctor may also arrange the test if you have symptoms.

Future UCLA blood drives are scheduled to take place in Culver City, Santa Monica, Rolling Hills, Simi Valley and other locations and are open to anyone interested in donating. For more information, see frequently asked questions about UCLA’s antibody testing program.

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