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21 May 2020, 15:45
A deal has been made with a pharmaceutical firm, which will mean COVID-19 antibody tests are set to be available on the NHS and will be given to healthcare staff first.
NHS workers will be the first to receive the free coronavirus antibody tests, which will be available following an agreement between the government and healthcare company Roche.
The test will be able to show if someone has had COVID-19 and if they have gained immunity.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman explained that they will be given out to healthcare professionals first.
He said: “The tests will be free for people who need them, as you would expect.”
“NHS and care workers will be prioritised for the tests,” he added.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is set to give more details about the antibody tests during the briefing this evening.
The antibody blood tests were made by Swiss company Roche and were given approval on May 14, by Public Health England.
Scientific experts at its Porton Down facility carried out an examination and found that it was ‘highly specific’ and had an accuracy of 100 per cent.
Professor Jonathon Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, recently promised that tests will be brought out ‘rapidly’, however, he warned that it could take up to 28 days after being infected before the best can confirm if the person did have the virus.
John Edmunds, a professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explained that this doesn’t necessarily mean that humans could develop long-term immunity from the virus.
He said: "We can also see from other coronaviruses, from ones that cause coughs and colds, that individuals again do seem to not have particularly long-term immunity to many of those viruses, allowing them to get reinfected later.
"Immunity may not last that long against this virus.”