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Government to offer antibody tests to health and social care staff and patients in England

Woman working in a laboratory, writing with a felt pen.

Antibody tests will be available to NHS and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus.

It forms part of a new national antibody testing programme announced by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

Tests will be prioritised for NHS and care staff, and clinicians will be able to request them for patients in both hospital and social care settings if they deem it appropriate.

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The new antibody testing programme, which will start next week, follows the substantial expansion of the UK’s swab testing capacity, which saw the creation of the country’s biggest network of diagnostic labs completed in record time.

Swab testing confirms whether or not someone currently has the virus that causes COVID-19.

Under the new programme announced today, highly accurate laboratory based antibody tests will be used to tell whether someone has already had the virus, to provide accurate data about the antibodies they have developed in response.

The information will help clinicians and scientists to better understand the prevalence of the virus in different regions across the country.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “Today we have signed contracts to supply over 10 million tests from Roche and Abbott supply in the coming months. From next week, we will begin rolling these out in a phased way. At first, to health and care staff, patients and residents.

“This is an important milestone and it represents further progress in our national testing programme. Knowing you have these antibodies will help us to understand in the future if you are at lower risk of catching coronavirus, dying from coronavirus and of transmitting coronavirus.”

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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