Tuesday, August 25, 2020

By News and Internal Communications

By Dimitra Trejo

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – UT Health RGV, the clinical arm of the UTRGV School of Medicine, has launched COVID-19 antibody testing as a third component of their pandemic initiatives, along with drive-thru testing and contact tracing operations.

Rio Grande Valley residents now can get tested for COVID-19 antibodies after they have tested positive for coronavirus.

The test checks your blood for antibodies against COVID-19, which can show if you previously have been infected.

Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections and usually provide protection against getting that disease again, known as immunity.   

To be tested for antibodies, you must make an appointment through the Patient Communications Center at 1-833-UTRGVMD. In addition, walk-ins are welcome at primary care sites.   

The draw/collection sites are located at the following locations:


  • UT Health RGV Multispecialty

    2106 Treasure Hills Blvd. 

    Harlingen 78550 

    (956) 296-1519 


  • UT Health RGV/Knapp Family Health Center 

    2810 W. Expressway 83 

    Mercedes 78570 

    (956) 296-1831 


  • UT Health RGV Primary and Urgent Care 

    3804 S. Jackson Road, Ste. #2 

    Edinburg 78539 

    (956) 296-3021

The test is done via intravenous blood draw, and the sample is sent to the UT Health RGV Lab for results, usually available within 24 to 36 hours, depending on the volume of samples.    

Cost of the antibody test can be billed to your insurance with an order from a UT Health RGV physician, or a $75 rate will be applied for those without an order.

Dr. John Thomas, UTRGV associate professor of biology and director of COVID-19 operations at the UT Health RGV Clinical Lab, said the team is ready for this next step in combatting COVID-19 in the region.   

“We are using the Abbott Alinity I platform to perform COVID19 IgG antibody testing. The test takes about 20 minutes to execute, and we have the capacity to run 200 samples an hour, or 2000 samples per day,” Thomas said. “The machine uses a chemiluminescent approach, which means it uses the emission of light as the result of a chemical reaction, to detect COVID-19. And, it has an accuracy rate greater than 99.5 percent."  

UT Health RGV Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Dobbs said UT Health RGV’s antibody testing efforts are important now more than ever.   

“We have worked very hard to get ready to offer COVID-19 antibody testing, which is one of the tests offered by our new clinical lab,” Dobbs said. “We are excited to offer antibody testing because it will help to identify more candidates who could donate convalescent plasma, a therapy for COVID-19.”  

COVID-19 testing is ongoing at the four UT Health RGV drive-thru testing sites located in Edinburg, Harlingen, Brownsville and Mercedes.   

Antibody testing should not replace COVID-19 testing. To make an appointment, call 1-833-UTRGVMD.   

UT Health RGV is conducting about 1,200 coronavirus tests daily.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.