DeWitt dermatologist partners with Mayo Clinic to bring coronavirus antibody testing to Central New York

Local News

DEWITT, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The phones at Empire Dermatology are ringing off the hook with people looking to make appointments for COVID-19 antibody testing.

Dr. Brian Raphael believes he’s the first doctor in the Syracuse area to be taking blood samples that will be sent to the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for testing.

Results that show the presence of antibodies from COVID-19 mean the patient was already infected by the virus, and maybe didn’t know it.

At Raphael’s office in DeWitt, nurses draw a vial of blood, “spin” and separate the blood, and then send the vial to Cayuga Medical Center. From there, it’s sent to the Mayo Clinic.

Doctors say results should come back within three days.

The results may offer peace of mind for some, but Dr. Raphael warns there’s still a lot the medical community doesn’t know about the long-term immunity. Raphael says, “It doesn’t tell us when you were infected, how you got infected, the degree of immunity or how long you’re going to be immune for.”

Antibodies from other coronaviruses, like the common cold, offer immunity for about six months. A virus more similar to COVID-19, SARS, produces antibodies with immunity for one-to-two years.

Raphael says he can test up to 50 people each day and is opening the service beyond his patients.

He believes Medicaid and most private health insurances will cover the costs, without any co-pay to patients.

New York State’s Department of Health offered similar testing, using a small finger prick, to a limited, random sample of people at two Syracuse grocery stores.

Raphael claims the Mayo Clinic’s version is the most accurate.

The test will not help people currently infected with COVID-19. Anyone with symptoms should contact their primary doctor or Upstate Hospital’s triage line for a different kind of test.

Empire Dermatology is located on Enterprise Parkway in DeWitt. The phone number, which may be busy, is 315-500-7546.

For more local news, follow Andrew Donovan on Twitter @AndrewDonovan

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