By ARTHUR L. MACK
Mobile City Council members approved a purchase order in the amount of $84,350 for COVID-19 tests kits from Test Kits at Home LLC during Tuesday’s meeting. The test kits were one of five essential COVID-19 items under immediate consideration approved during the meeting. Under the purchase order, a total of 6,000 test kits will be ordered at a price of $14 apiece, along with a $350 price for shipping.
Councilwoman Bess Rich asked if the test kits were FDA approved. Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said they were not. Rich then asked how the kits would be introduced into the community, since the PCR was the standard test for the virus. Stimpson said the test kits were screening tools and were not diagnostic tests as were the PCR tests.
Public Safety Director James Barber said there seemed to be some confusion between the antibody tests and PCR tests as to how they were applied, but cleared it up by explaining the antibody test was applied by experienced trained medical personnel.
“We have partnered up with Diagnostic Medical and University Hospital to provide those personnel who are administering the antibody screening, so if you do come back with a positive reading that’s when we go to the PCR; so we’re not using it as a diagnostic tool, because it is not approved as an FDA diagnostic tool.
“The only approved diagnostic tool is the PCR test and so if you do show antibodies we’ll use the PCR test to see if you are asymptomatic or a carrier of the COVID-19 virus. That’s the only way we can determine it. But I think you’re going to see antibody testing get qualitative and quantatively better because we have more machinery coming in.”