Healthcare staff to access Covid-19 antibody tests 'starting next week'

Henrietta Brewer
May 23, 2020

The second type of test announced by Hancock tells patients if they now have the virus within just 20 minutes.

Data gathered from an antibody surveillance study suggests 17 percent of people in London and around five percent of people across England have tested positive for antibodies to coronavirus, he told the daily Downing Street briefing.

The Government's testing coordinator has urged the public not to rely on home antibody tests available at Superdrug. In recent weeks, though, supply has begun outpacing demand for the tests.

Receiving results on site will mean people with symptoms will be given immediate certainty as to whether or not they have the virus. "If you're curious, call us".


"My advice would be to wait until we have better tests which will be available in a similar form very soon, though they are still under evaluation at the moment". The cost is $45 but should be covered by your insurance.

The decision came a day after another U-turn when the Government extended a scheme offering indefinite leave to remain to the families of all NHS staff who die as a result of contracting coronavirus.

Under a policy in place from mid-March through early May, the agency allowed over 180 antibody blood tests to be sold and distributed in the US without federal review but with certain conditions for manufacturers: They must notify the FDA of their plans, perform self-validation studies and carry a label saying the product is not authorized and incapable of diagnosing COVID-19 on its own.

Testing positive for the novel coronavirus triggers a response from the county health department that includes contact tracing and an isolation order.


It requires a finger prick blood sample, which is then sent off to the lab.

"We're not yet in a position to say that those who test positive in these antibody tests are immune from coronavirus".

Mr Hancock said the introduction of the tests was an "important milestone", adding: "It is not just about the clinical advancements that these tests can bring, it is about knowing how these antibodies will help in the future for us to know if you are at risk of the virus". A dozen companies have already been reviewed and authorized by the FDA to sell the tests after meeting requirements for accuracy and reliability.

Powis also said that experts are yet to determine whether having having antibodies would protect someone contacting coronavirus.


They will initially be offered to NHS staff and care workers but some patients will be able to request them via their doctors.

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