Coronavirus: NHS England official cautions against buying antibody tests

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Antibody assessments are carried out in different international locations, akin to Russia

Folks in England have been cautioned towards utilizing coronavirus antibody assessments being bought by some retailers.

NHS England’s medical director Prof Stephen Powis stated specialists had been “evaluating” antibody assessments, which present if somebody has already had the virus.

Such assessments usually are not but accessible by the NHS, however some are being bought commercially.

“I’d warning towards utilizing any assessments… with out understanding fairly how good these assessments are,” stated Prof Powis.

Presently, the coronavirus assessments accessible to all adults and kids aged over 5 are swab tests – taking a swab up the nostril or from the again of the throat. These assessments inform you if you happen to presently have Covid-19.

A second kind of take a look at – the antibody take a look at – is a blood take a look at that appears for antibodies within the blood to see whether or not an individual has had the virus.

Well being officers in England have already approved an antibody test. There isn’t any date for when it is going to be rolled out, however Well being Secretary Matt Hancock stated earlier this week the federal government was in “the closing phases of economic negotiations”.

On Wednesday, Superdrug grew to become the most recent enterprise – and first excessive road retailer – to supply the antibody take a look at. The equipment prices £69 and consumers must take a blood pattern at house, which is shipped off to a lab for testing.

Questions over immunity

Talking on the No 10 day by day briefing on Wednesday, Prof Powis stated: “Public Well being England have been evaluating the brand new antibody assessments, the business assessments which can be changing into accessible.”

However he added: “I’d warning towards utilizing any assessments that is perhaps made accessible with out understanding fairly how good these assessments are… I’d warning folks towards being tempted to have these assessments.”

Setting out among the uncertainties across the assessments, Prof Powis stated: “Upon getting the virus, the physique’s immune system develops antibodies towards it and it is these antibodies which can be detected sometimes a variety of weeks after you have had the virus.

“What we do not completely know in the intervening time is whether or not having antibodies and having the antibodies which can be examined in these assessments signifies that you will not get the virus once more.

“So I would not need folks to assume simply since you take a look at optimistic for the antibody that it essentially signifies that you are able to do one thing completely different by way of social distancing, in the way in which you behave.

“As a result of till we’re completely certain concerning the relationship between the optimistic antibody take a look at and immunity, I believe we as scientists would say we have to tread cautiously going additional ahead.”

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