San Diego pharmacy receives testing strips that can detect signs of COVID-19 in blood

Posted at 4:35 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 19:32:44-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Eldahmy Wellness Pharmacy just received a shipment of test strip kits that can detect signs of COVID-19 in the blood.

"I usually compare it to the blood glucose machine," said Ahmed Eldahmy, an advanced practice pharmacist who owns Eldahmy Wellness Pharmacy's two locations in La Jolla and Barrio Logan. "Hopefully in the future this point-of-care testing will be available in every doctor's office, clinic, pharmacy."

The kits are allowed by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as of March 31, 2020.

Although he could not yet tell us the name of the company creating the kits, Eldahmy showed them to us and explained how they work to detect if signs of COVID-19 are present in the blood.

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"These are basically the antibodies that our test is trying to detect," Eldahmy explained while holding the test during a Skype interview. "We take a drop of blood and we put it in this spot at the bottom of the test. This is how we can figure out if the blood sample has the antibody component or not."

He said it only takes moments to receive results.

"You leave it for about 5 to 10 minutes and it will tell you if it's positive or negative," he explained. "There’s only a one or two percent chance that it might not be accurate."

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People must fill out a pre-screening questionnaire before receiving the test which asks if they've recently traveled to an area with known spread of COVID-19, if they've come in close contact with someone who tested positive in the last 14 days, if they have a fever greater than 100.4 or lower respiratory illnesses like cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and if they work as a first responder or healthcare worker.

The answers will determine if one qualifies for the test.

"We can send it to a patient in their homes they can do it or we can do it here in our location," said Eldahmy. "We’d rather do it at our location in order to give patients a little bit of guidance or direction. We don’t want people to panic or freak out."

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If someone chooses to do the testing in person, it will be done following social distancing guidelines outside of Eldahmy's two pharmacies.

"Within the 10-15 minutes we will bring them the results, bring them the paperwork and what they need to do moving forward," he said.

If results come back positive, Eldahmy will refer the patient to have further testing done.

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"Basically body fluid or a nasal swab that we have to send to a lab," he said. "If they tested negative but still have symptoms they still need to self quarantine for 14 days in order for us to assess and we will redo the test after 14 days."

Right now he only has a little under 100 tests, but is hoping to receive more soon.

Because Eldahmy understands that many people may be struggling during this time, there will be no financial gain for his pharmacies.

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"Its not the time to make a profit off of it," he explained while saying he will either give the test for free or for the price he paid depending on each person's financial situation.

"We just want to do something for our community, make sure that those who are actually on the fence, or they have symptoms, or they don't have access to the hospital, then we'll be able to help them out."

Testing sites will be set up at both pharmacies.

"We’ll do one day in Barrio Logan and the next day in La Jolla and we will alternate," he said. "We can answer questions, we can give guidance and let hospitals deal with 100 percent positive cases that need the help."

The tests will be given on a first come, first serve basis by appointment only starting Wednesday. To make an appointment call 619-331-1111. After confirming an appointment, you will be advised to go to one of the following locations:

1985 National Ave #1103
San Diego, CA 92113

7509 Draper Ave Suite A
La Jolla, CA 92037

To learn more about Eldahmy Wellness Pharmacy click here.