Coronavirus: volunteers sought for antibody tests


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Antibody tests are already underway in many other countries

Volunteers are being sought from NHS staff and other government employees for a study on the effectiveness of Covid-19 antibody home test kits.

A number of rapid response kits are to be studied, including one from a consortium including the University of Oxford.

The test to see if anyone has ever had a coronavirus has been described by the Prime Minister as a game changer to get people back to work.

Public Health England has started to search 2,500 volunteers for the study.

Experts questioned the usefulness of the tests because it is unclear whether antibodies protect people from the virus, but the government has said the study will help understand Covid-19.

A spokesperson for the health ministry said, “No reliable home tests have yet been found, and it is unknown whether the antibodies indicate immunity against reinfection or transmission.

“This research is part of our ongoing surveillance work to increase our understanding of how to fight this virus. “

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Healthcare professionals have previously participated in a study involving antibody tests

Commercial testing, which requires the user to send a blood sample to a laboratory, has been suspended in the UK and people have been warned not to buy unapproved tests.

In March the government bought 3.5 million home antibody tests, but scientists at Oxford University found them to be unreliable.

Since then, Public Health England (PHE) has launched a separate study of 10,000 healthcare workers that involves blood tests for antibodies to find out more about immunity to the virus.

The Rapid Test Consortium, involving the University of Oxford and four British manufacturers – BBI Solutions, Abingdon Health, CIGA Healthcare and Omega Diagnostics – claimed that its device, which uses a finger prick to produce results in 10 minutes, is very precise.

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, who oversaw the government’s validation and strategy for antibody testing, said: “We have really set the gold standard in what you have to wait for these tests and I suspect a lot of people will be really interested in what we have produced in the past two months. ”

PHE plans to recruit 2,500 volunteers to see how effective and easy to use the tests are, with the first results expected by the end of the summer.


Sir John Bell oversaw the validation and strategy of the government’s antibody tests


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