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Kroger to offer rapid COVID-19 antibody tests at all pharmacies

The rapid antibody tests involve a finger-prick blood sample to determine whether someone has previously been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Kroger Co. announced it will be the first U.S. retailer to offer rapid antibody testing to its customers across the country. 

The Ohio-based supermarket chain said the FDA-authorized tests will be available at all Kroger pharmacies and clinics by the end of November. 

The antibody tests, supplied by Whitmire Medical, involve a finger-prick blood sample to detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. The tests cost $25 and typically provide results within 15 minutes that let a person know if they've previously been infected, the company said.  

Kroger has already been offering rapid antibody testing at its stores in California and Michigan.

Antibody tests look for proteins that the body makes to fight off infections in a person's blood. Antibodies are a sign that a person previously had COVID-19. One of the biggest mysteries of the pandemic is whether having had the coronavirus helps protect against future infection and for how long. Some smaller studies previously suggested that antibodies disappear quickly and that some people with few or no symptoms may not make many at all.

People who think they currently have COVID-19 should not take an antibody test because it only detects antibodies developed in response to the virus, not the virus itself. 

Kroger has more than 2,200 pharmacies and 220 clinics in 35 states. The Kroger Co. grocery stores include Kroger, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, King Sooper's, Fry's, Fred Meyer and more. 

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