Health Care

Coronavirus: UK government in talks with Roche about ‘highly specific’ antibody tests

Coronavirus: UK government in talks with Roche about ‘highly specific’ antibody tests”

A health minister has hailed the UK's approval of an immunity test for coronavirus as a game changer that could allow more people to go to work with confidence, although the government has not yet managed to buy any of the tests.

BBC health editor Hugh Pym said: "An antibody test for coronavirus has always been seen as an important part of the toolkit for plotting a route out of lockdown restrictions". And is it as accurate as it seems?

The examination found the test to be "highly specific", with an accuracy of 100 per cent in detecting people who had ever had Covid-19.

"The test can also help identify both immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies - which are produced by the body in the initial fight against the infection - and immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies - which remain longer in the body", said Roche.

Scientific experts at PHE's Porton Down facility have been conducting evaluations of a new antibody blood test developed by a Swiss pharmaceutical company.

The test could pave the way for people who have antibodies to be issued with a certificate showing their Covid-19 status and potential immunity.

It's this immunity from bacteria and viruses that scientists are hoping to find with the antibody test.

The test involves taking a small sample of blood and testing it for antibodies which will indicate exposure to coronavirus.

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That is because Public Health England - the government's advisor on all things health and safety - says it has approved a reliable antibody testing kit to see whether people have had coronavirus in the past.

The national coordinator of the UK Coronavirus Testing Programme, Professor John Newton confirmed PHE Porton Down evaluated the Sars-CoV-2 serology assay.

Some evidence suggests that antibodies develop soon after a coronavirus infection, but it is not clear whether that guarantees anything more than short-term immunity from reinfection.

Not yet. The Government plans to first roll out the test to front-line workers such as those in health and social care.

He said: "We have a new virus entering the human population for the first time, and therefore it is very hard to predict when we will prevail over it".

It comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) today warned that the virus may "never go away".

"And it is important to put this on the table - this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities". "These tests will help us better understand immunity against the virus and how it spreads, so we can keep Canadians safe and healthy".

He told ITV's Peston: "Well, I think it tends to confirm that we've got a very sharp move into recession and it was quite sudden, which is obviously what we've all observed from the shutting down of the economy so, to be frank, we're not really surprised by that number at all".

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