Britain

Antibody tests will be available on the NHS – as latest figures reveal 338 more UK deaths

Coronavirus antibody tests will be available on the NHS following an agreement between the government and pharmaceutical firm Roche.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to set out further details later at the Downing Street briefing about a deal on the supply of the tests – which show if someone has had COVID-19 and developed immunity.

The prime minister's official spokesman told reporters: "The tests will be free for people who need them, as you would expect.

How does the COVID-19 antibody test work?

"NHS and care workers will be prioritised for the tests."

It comes as 338 more people died with the virus, according to the UK government, taking the total to 36,042.

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Across the four nations:

  • 187 were reported by NHS England
  • 37 were announced in Scotland by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
  • Nine were confirmed by Public Health Wales
  • Seven were declared by the Northern Irish health department

The discrepancy between the total UK figure and the individual home nations is due to each authority calculating their deaths in different ways and at different times.

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Image: The number of people who died with the virus has risen to 36,042

The coronavirus antibody blood tests, made by Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche, were given approval by Public Health England on 14 May after scientists at its Porton Down facility found the test was "highly specific" and had an accuracy of 100%.

England's deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, last week promised the tests would be rolled out "rapidly".

He cautioned it could take up to 28 days after someone is infected before the test can properly confirm if a person did have the virus.

It will "take time" to monitor how much people with antibodies have immunity from the virus and how long it could last for, he explained.

The tests were heralded by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as being a "game-changer" for lifting lockdown because someone who finds out they have antibodies can be "safe and confident in the knowledge that you are most unlikely to get it again".

But John Edmunds, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has warned studies of other coronaviruses suggest "potentially bad news" for hopes humans could develop a long-term immunity.Read More – Source

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