Nevada State Public Health Lab to start limited antibody testing in coming weeks

First step to “validate” the accuracy of the test before any medical or public health use of the tests occur

A photo of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory at UNR Med.

The NSPHL anticipates antibody testing to be limited in the first two weeks after unveiling the test, with availability increasing gradually in following weeks. The NSPHL will use these initial tests to first evaluate or "validate" the accuracy of the test, prior to any medical or public health use of the tests. UNR Med photo by Brin Reynolds. 

The Nevada State Public Health Lab (NSPHL) is currently conducting COVID-19 testing by way of real-time polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR), which is a form of testing that detects the virus itself.  In the coming weeks, the NSPHL will begin a new form of testing, which includes detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  Such a test may be able to determine whether a person has been infected with the virus, in the past. 

The NSPHL anticipates testing to be limited in the first two weeks after unveiling the test, with availability increasing gradually in following weeks.  The NSPHL will use its initial tests to first evaluate or "validate" the accuracy of the test, prior to any medical or public health use of the tests.

"While our current ability to detect virus in human specimens is useful for determining whether people are infected with the virus, the antibody test will provide us with information about whether people were infected, but maybe never even knew they were," said Mark Pandori, Ph.D., director of the Nevada State Public Health Lab.

The test that the NSPHL will be performing is manufactured by Abbott, which is seeking Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for its distribution and use. 

Data from antibody tests will help state leaders make informed business and public health decisions. Nevada Governor Sisolak reported (April 16) that a plan to re-open business and communities in Nevada is being developed based on modeling and projections, health risk assessments, review of testing capacity, and other factors.

Pandori emphasized that while the NSPHL can make limited antibody tests available, it will be up to the state health districts and clinicians to determine how the tests are used. Just like with a COVID-19 test, patients will need to contact their doctor or clinician for an antibody test. Doctors and clinicians will determine who gets tested, where patients can get tested and how the tests will be administered.

Antibody tests are administered two ways:

  1. Point-of-Care Rapid Diagnostic Tests - process involves a finger prick of blood.
  2. Lab-based Tests - process involves a clinician drawing blood from the arm and sending to the NSPHL or another public health lab for diagnostic testing.

For more information on the administration of antibody tests in Nevada, please contact the following:


Media Contacts

Julie Ardito, APR
Senior Director, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 784-6006

Tessa Bowen, MPA
Communications Manager, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 682-9254

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.