Superdrug now selling coronavirus antibody tests for £69

Mass antibody testing is being considered by many countries as a way to speed the reopening of economies

With most viral infections, the presence of antibodies reduces or removes the risk of reinfection, but this has not yet been proven with coronavirus.

Now that we know COVID-19 patients do indeed produce antibodies against the virus, the CDC and several commercial manufacturers have developed serology or antibody tests for COVID-19.

With new testing methods and sites constantly being developed and opened, here's the latest on where to get tested for coronavirus and what the new exams tell us about the disease. But the only results reported are those from the regular COVID-19 swab tests and only those that turn out positive get added to the statewide daily count.

Either Boris Johnson or Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is expected to make the announcement on Thursday, the Guardian understands.

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

Professor Gino Martini, chief scientific officer at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, added: "Any antibody test at present can only provide a partial picture. However, they won't be able to tell us for months if people who have had the virus are immune".

There are now two types of test for the coronavrius. These tests tell you if you now have Covid-19. Roche's test has been validated by PHE as 99.8% specific and Abbott's as 99.6% specific.

Home use of the test - which uses a spot of blood from a finger prick rather than a full blood sample - has only been confirmed as accurate by an independent lab, and not yet by PHE. And of course, a finger prick test at home is easier than visiting a clinic to give a more regular blood sample. "If a person takes a test and gets a false positive, they may assume they have been exposed and that they have immunity when they do not", said Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol.

Experts say positive tests should not simply be seen as a "green light" to reduce PPE or other protections for staff. However, it can produce a likely indication that someone had a past infection.

The tests, which reveal whether a person has had Covid-19, will be "free for people who need them" and priority will be given to NHS staff and care workers. It determines if a patient has had past exposure to COVID-19. Officials say the tests are still being investigated and shouldn't be used to make decisions about social distancing. If you have antibodies, then it is thought that you might have some level of immunity to coronavirus.

Scientists have stressed that although the two tests offer useful information about who has been infected, it is not yet clear what proportion of these people will be immune to the disease. Several studies have already begun, including one from Biobank, which is planning to test 20,000 participants, their children and grandchildren. "Their use will be in those settings and surveillance so we get some impression of how many people in this population have been infected by the virus", he said.

Antigen tests are used to diagnose HIV, malaria and flu. "The antibody test shows you that you have had the virus. The real issue is that no-one knows the level of immunity that is conferred by having antibodies to coronavirus, how long it might last, and if you can become re-infected". These people will be informed that they don't have antibodies but can test again at another time if they wish.

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