Health City opens antibody tests to all

| 29/06/2020 | 19 Comments
Cayman News Service
Health City Cayman Islands is offering COVID-19 antibody tests

(CNS): Anyone who wants to know if they have had COVID-19 can now take an antibody test at Health City Cayman Islands, as the East End hospital has received some 5,000 approved kits for the blood tests that can tell people if they have had the disease. HCCI’s clinical director, Dr Binoy Chattuparambil, explained that with so many people being asymptomatic here, the tests will help officials determine the prevalence of COVID-19 and the potential level of immunity to it.

In addition to satisfying people’s curiosity, giving them an idea of their probable immunity and the prevalence in Cayman, this type of testing is very important for epidemiological studies, since this is a new virus and scientists are working hard to learn as much as they can to curb the spread, improve treatment and ultimately develop a vaccine.

Dr Chattuparambil pointed out that by adding this testing to the arsenal used to fight the spread of COVID-19 here, Cayman is now one of the safest places in the world regarding this virus.

“With the introduction of antibody testing, in addition to the PCR testing and all modalities of treatment, the Cayman Islands has the complete package in detecting and fighting COVID-19,” Dr Chattuparambil said.

“We are already at number three in the world for PCR testing per population. Our results show we are one of the safest places on Earth right now, so it is a very proud moment for me, and the public should take great comfort, because we can say we are living in a country that is very safe in terms of COVID-19,” he added.

He explained that these tests, also known as immunoglobulin testing, detect antibodies in the blood which are developed as part of the body’s immune system’s defence against viruses and diseases.

There are two types of immunoglobulin that could be present in the bloodstream following exposure to COVID-19. Immunoglobulin M (IgM) is the first antibody to appear in the response to initial exposure indicating recent or current infection. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) protects you against infection by ‘remembering’ which germs you have been exposed to before and appears in the bloodstream 14 days following infection.

“When you get a virus, your body will form antibodies to fight it. So usually if there is subsequent infection or entry of the virus into the body, these preformed antibodies will fight the virus,” Dr Chattuparambil said. “By knowing you have this antibody, you know you are most likely safe because you are immune to a subsequent infection by the same strain of the virus.

The antibody test is quick and simple, requiring only 3cc of blood to be drawn and results are back in under an hour. But this antibody testing does not determine whether an individual has an active or past infection, as it cannot differentiate between IgM and IgG antibodies. Therefore, everyone who tests positive for antibodies should also take a PCR test.

“If the PCR test is negative, it means the infection was past and they have IgG immunity,” Dr Chattuparambil explained.

Public Health has been directing all COVID-19 testing in the Cayman Islands, and the antibody testing at Health City will feed into the national tracking of the rate of infection in the local population.

The test kits that are being used at HCCI are from Roche Diagnostics, one of two antibody test systems approved for use by Public Health England in May 2020.

Although HCCI has focused on testing its own and other front-line workers, the facility is opening up testing to the general public, and is taking bookings for testing appointments.

Test results are sent to the patient or referring physician by email within 24 hours. All patients who test positive will be contacted by Public Health for follow-up PCR testing to determine if their infection is past or present.

To book an appointment for antibody testing, send an email to

Including your name, date of birth and phone number.

Alternatively, call or text 525-1481

Testing appointments will be booked between 10am and 12pm and from 1pm to 3pm, Monday to Friday and on Saturdays from 10am.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I was planning to have this done, but as usual health insurance will not cover it. Health insurance is the biggest legal scam of the 21st century.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would they cover it? It is an elective test that shows that you may at some point have had a disease but it is of no value apart from on a statistical level and even then only if everyone gets one.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The problem is, hardly anyone from the general population in the Cayman Islands understands what they are reading.

    An example.

    Compass writes their articles as if they are written for little children or naive, uneducated people.

    Take their article about testing for antibodies. On the surface, it should be exciting to read that such testing is happening in Cayman.
    James Whittaker is explaining to people How the new antibody tests work.
    Again the language of the article is simplified to the point of nauseation: “The nurse tourniquets my arm, inserts the needle, and the tube fills with dark red fluid.” Dah!
    Then he continues explaining what antibodies are and says: ” Roche analyser machine can detect antibodies specific to the coronavirus.” What are they? He forgot to mention.
    But so far so good, if you are a 3d grader, you got it.
    Then he talks about 2 types of antibodies, when in fact there are 5.
    Then he says “it won’t show which type. And the distinction is crucial.” Hah??!!! What is the point of testing then?

    So why such an article was even written in the first place if:
    – the machine is testing something we don’t know what
    – if it makes false statements such as 2 types of antibodies, instead of 5
    – if it ignores, and Compass staff should have done some research, that coronavirus specific antibodies order contradict major dogma in immunology that states that the IgM antibody response actually precedes secondary memory responses built on the production of IgG, IgA, and (occasionally) IgE antibodies. IT IS NOT! IgA IS THE FIRST TO RESPOND and it stays longer.

    So the questions nobody asked:
    – why mislead people into believing that something wonderful is happening in Cayman with antibody testing, when in fact it is not.
    – why not to give people credit for some intelligence and provide different explanation of what antibodies are. They are not that dumb to understand 3 more types of antibodies.

    I don’t see reasons to applaud antibodies testing. Cayman Citi immunologists are supposed to be far superior to an average immunologist and stay on top of the latest developments in coronavirus research which changes daily. They have access to such sources.

    • Anonymous says:

      Health City immunologists are supposed to….not “Cayman Citi”

    • Anonymous says:

      It would be nice for Health City to respond.
      Their reputation is based on superior knowledge and expertise.
      They must stay on top of the latest developments in C19 research, which changes daily.
      Having a machine that tests for “unknown” antibodies and “selling” it to naive Caymanians as an achievement, the next step in C19 testing is unacceptable.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been allowing companies to market COVID-19 antibody tests without requiring them to submit validation data proving that these tests gave accurate results. As a result, of the more than 100 COVID-19 antibody tests currently available, only a handful have been FDA-approved.

  4. Anonymous says:

    In the immune response to an infectious disease, IgM usually appear first, followed by IgG and IgA, with occasional contributions from IgE.

    Current antibody tests for COVID-19 test only IgM and IgG, and assume that IgM represents a recent infection, while IgG will represent a recent or distant infection.

    French researchers found (June 12) things work completely differently in COVID-19.

    IgA are particularly important for protecting the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth, and gastrointestinal tract.

    In the first week, there are nearly twice as many people who are positive for IgA to the spike protein than those who are positive for either of the other antibodies. IgA continues to be most prevalent in the second week, and it is almost as prevalent as IgG in the third and fourth weeks. IgM is never the most prevalent, and it drops off in the fifth week just like IgA. Only IgG remains prevalent in the fifth week.

    The existing antibody tests are based on false assumptions. IgA, rather than IgM, should be used to indicate a recent infection.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Do we know with certainty that a negative igg test is confirmation of no historical infection or rather instead that there are no antibodies present at time of test?

  6. Anon says:

    It’s unfortunate that people lose immunity within months of recovery so the test is of very short lived value to the individual.

    • Anonymous says:

      And if this is true, good luck producing an effective vaccine which is based on the assumption antibodies will protect you.

      Also, the study mentions asymptomatic people are less likely to produce antibodies, which brings up the question again as to whether asymptomatic people even had any infection as the current test is for DNR not for active infection.

      Note, places that have re-opened in after experiencing zero new cases for at least a month now were never testing for asymptomatic people only for those with infection, unlike cayman. The insert in the test states you can come back positive from a previous non-covid19 infection…… time for a rethink?

      • Anonymous says:

        The Oxford/AZ first generation vaccine trial (phase 2/3 started last week in Brazil and South Africa). There is a Moderna trial underway too. The later is supposed to train the human immune system to recognize and respond to the unique spike protein shape using mRNA. This might be useful as there are likely other strains waiting out there that could theoretically be introduced to humans, or existing that might adapt and mutate over time.

    • Anon says:

      Also! Further proof that this test is a waste of time and money …
      Coronavirus: Immunity may be more widespread than tests suggest

  7. Anonymous says:

    One small point the doctor seems to have forgotten, what is the charge for these two tests?.

    • Anonymous says:

      Antibody is free.

      • Anonymous says:

        The charge at health city for antibody test is USD 50 & not covered by insurance.

        • Say it like it is says:

          But how much do they charge for the PCR test?.The article seems to be promoting these tests to produce revenue, rather than for altruistic raesons.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks, I was surprised that CNS didn’t publish the cost in their article (apologies if I overlooked it).

    • Anonymous says:

      Quite surprised at the price, this testing is for the benefit of the island and should be free to frontline workers.
      Think my curiosity can wait

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