United Kingdom tests reveal 17% of Londoners have COVID-19 antibodies

Cheryl Sanders
May 22, 2020

The UK government is, however, seemingly pressing on regardless, and also arranging supplies for the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with each part of the UK deciding how to use its test allocation.

Hancock said the announcement marked an "important milestone", adding: "History has shown that understanding an enemy is fundamental to defeating it".

At the briefing, Mr Hancock added that the government could not now say if people who test positive for these antibodies are necessarily immune from COVID-19. But as insight improves with antibody tests, they tell us how our body reacts and how the virus spreads throughout country.

Data gathered from an antibody surveillance study led by the Office for National Statistics suggests 17 per cent of people in London and about 5.0 per cent in England have tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus, Hancock said on Thursday.

As well as the two tests from Roche and Abbott, Mr Hancock said three more are being assessed and he ultimately wants a "home-grown" antibody test which he said is "showing some early promise".

It was earlier revealed at least 36,042 people have died with coronavirus, an increase of 338 from yesterday, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

Public Health England (PHE) also then said last week that scientists at its Porton Down facility had carried out an independent evaluation of the Roche test.

Also speaking at the No 10 briefing, Prof John Newton, who is in charge of the government's testing efforts, said quick test results were a key element. This test will help public health leaders take a true count of how many people across the USA have been infected with the virus, including those who never had any symptoms of the virus and never received a molecular test.

If it is eventually proven that people with antibodies are immune, they could safely return to work and socialise with other people without fear of catching or spreading the virus.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who urged the PM in the Commons on Wednesday to scrap the charge, said: 'Boris Johnson is right to have U-turned and backed our proposal to remove the NHS charge for health professionals and care workers.

People flock to London's parks with lockdown measures eased.

A smartphone app is now being tested, while the government has also promised to recruit 25,000 tracing staff.

The antigen test could be useful because it may be able to detect the virus faster than current molecular tests do; taking minutes instead of days to produce test results.

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