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Public Health England approves COVID-19 antibodies test from Roche

Published on 14/05/20 at 10:56am
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland

Public Health England (PHE) have approved Roche’s antibody test to help determine how much of the population has been infected with COVID-19.

This test was first approved at the start of May by the EU and by the FDA as being 99.8% specific for COVID-19, meaning it won’t be confused by either other coronaviruses or the flu, and it will work up to 14 days after a blood sample is taken from a patient who has the virus. Roche says its laboratories can provide results in approximately 18 minutes for a single test, and can do up to 300 tests an hour.

Professor John Newton, the national coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing programme, spoke about Roche’s test, saying: “This is a very positive development, because such a highly specific antibody test is a very reliable marker of past infection. This in turn may indicate some immunity to future infection, although the extent to which the presence of antibodies indicates immunity remains unclear.”

Antibody tests will help researchers understand how far the virus has spread through society and how deadly it really has been. Currently, the government is using swab tests, which will still remain a large part of their approach to tracking and tracing the virus.

Conor Kavanagh

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