Coronavirus antibody test that could help ease lockdown approved in UK
14 May 2020, 08:14 | Updated: 14 May 2020, 08:55
The Swiss antibody test has been described as a 'very positive development'.
An antibody test that detects if you have been infected with coronavirus has been approved by Public Health England.
The Swiss test, which detects antibodies in the user's blood, has been described as a 'very positive development' in the fight against Covid-19.
Similar tests have existed before, but this is the first that officials are confident is sufficiently accurate.
Experts at the government's Porton Down facility, who evaluated the test, said that it was 'highly specific', according to the Telegraph.
Professor John Newton, national coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing programme, said: "Last week, scientific experts at PHE Porton Down carried out an independent evaluation of the new Roche SARS-CoV-2 serology assay in record time, concluding that it is a highly specific assay with specificity of 100 per cent.
"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."
According to the report, the government is in negotiations with Swiss healthcare company Roche, who made the tests, to buy 'millions'.
Speaking about the test, Jeremy Hunt said: "This is potentially very exciting news for people who work in the NHS and care sector who have been most exposed to the virus.
"If we can establish that antibodies give you immunity, it would mean that you can go back to work safely. As soon as we can be certain that antibodies give you long-lasting immunity, I would expect significant orders to be placed."
According to the report, the test could potentially help ease lockdown measures in the UK.
Boris Johnson previously called anti-body testing a 'game-changer' as it could help easing lockdown measures by allowing people to return to work confident that they are unlikely to become infected again.