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14 May 2020, 09:40
A new coronavirus antibody test has been given the go-ahead to be rolled out across the UK.
A test previously called a “game-changer” by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the new coronavirus anti-body test will give a more detailed insight into how many people have had COVID-19 in the past.
The new development has been found to be 100 per cent accurate and Public Health England are hoping to roll out testing across the NHS and the wider public.
The test is designed to determine if a patient has previously had coronavirus and whether they’ve developed antibodies against it.
These antibodies could help indicate if a person has gained immunity against the virus, but it’s not yet clear how long someone will have immunity for.
Public Health England said scientists at its Porton Down facility who evaluated the test last week found it to be “highly specific” and called the development by Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche “very positive.”
Professor John Newton, national co-ordinator of the UK Coronavirus Testing Programme, told Sky News: "This is a very positive development because such a highly specific antibody test is a very reliable marker of past infection.
"This in turn may indicate some immunity to future infection although the extent to which the presence of antibodies indicates immunity remains unclear."
Antibody testing is a key part of the strategy in fighting the spread of coronavirus.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said they are now actively working on rolling out antibody testing on a large scale and announcements will be made in due course.
In March, Boris Johnson said: "The great thing about having a test to see whether you've had it enough, is suddenly a green light goes on above your head and you can go back to work safe and confident in the knowledge that you are most unlikely to get it again.
"So for an economic point of view, from a social point of view, it really could be a game-changer."
Chief executive of Roche Group, Severin Schwan, said they are hoping the development can support healthcare systems around the world with “an important tool” to better manage the ongoing crisis.