Bradley County site offers test to show COVID-19 antibodies

This photo shows the rapid screen test kit being used at Physician Services in Cleveland, Tenn., to detect antibodies of COVID-19 in blood serum.

A site in Bradley County that began providing drive-thru COVID-19 testing last weekend is now touting a 10-minute "rapid screen" - but it's not meant to diagnose a COVID-19 infection.

The new rapid test that Cleveland-based Physician Services is offering is a serology, or blood serum, test. Serology tests detect antibodies, the proteins that signal an immune response, and are used to determine past infection.

Owner Matthew McNulty said his website and patient disclaimer clearly states, "The rapid screen tests for antibodies. That's all it does."

However, virologist Clint Smith said that communicating the differences between the different new COVID-19 tests that are hitting the market can be a challenge.

"I could imagine people would be very willing to pay [for the serology test], not fully knowing that it doesn't answer the question, 'Am I currently sick?'" said Smith, who specializes in coronaviruses at the University of the South.