| 17°C Belfast

Antibody tests to be rolled out across the country, says Hancock

The Health Secretary said about 40,000 tests are being conducted a day across the health and social care sector.

Close

(Ben Birchall/PA)

(Ben Birchall/PA)

(Ben Birchall/PA)

Tests that determine whether someone has had Covid-19 will be rolled out “across the country”, the Health Secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said around 40,000 tests a day are currently being conducted across the health and social care sector.

During the daily Downing Street press briefing, Mr Hancock was asked when members of the public who suspect they may have had Covid-19 will be able to have the antibody test.

“In the first instance, the antibody test is being used by those in the health and social care sector,” he said.

“We are delivering around 40,000 a day across the NHS and social care, and just over 40,000 a day on the latest figures.

“And then we’ll roll them out across the country.”

The science behind the level of protection provided by antibodies is still in its early stages as the virus has not been around long enough.

Mr Hancock added: “We haven’t yet been able to pin down the science of whether having antibody means that you are at lower risk of getting the infection again and critically at lower risk of transmitting the virus.

“We’ve got tests in the field to find that out.

Close

(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

“So we will be rolling out antibody tests more broadly, and with a huge number of them to be able to do that.

“They involve a phlebotomist being able to take blood so that you can analyse that blood, which means that we’ve got to roll them out at the pace that we are.

“We are trying to expand the rate at which we roll them out because I entirely understand your yearning to know.”

Last week the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency urged caution over home sampling kits, where people take a blood sample at home and send it for testing in a laboratory.

Several tests became available offering an assessment of whether people have Covid-19 antibodies, based on a sample of blood taken at home.

The MHRA urged UK providers of the home kits to temporarily stop providing the service while it assesses whether “home collection of this sample type has been properly assessed and validated for use with these laboratory tests”.

PA