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GPs go forth

Healthcare staff to access Covid-19 antibody tests 'starting next week'

Healthcare professionals in England will get access to antibody tests, starting next week, the health secretary has announced.

Speaking in this evening’s daily coronavirus briefing, Matt Hancock said this comes after deals the Government has signed with Swiss company Roche and American company Abbott.

He said health and care staff, patients and residents would get priority in the rollout of the first batches of testing kits.

Mr Hancock said: 'I can announce today that we have signed contracts to supply, in the coming months, over 10 million tests from Roche and Abbott.

'From next week, we will begin rolling these out in a phased way. First to health and care staff, patients and residents.'

This applies to England, with the devolved nations to make their own decisions on prioritisation of the tests that they will be allocated from the UK total.

'Three further tests are being assessed right now,' the health secretary added.

Mr Hancock said: 'This is an important milestone, and it represents further progress in our national testing programme.'

However, admitting that it is not certain that people who have antibodies cannot get reinfected with Covid-19, he said that the availability of testing would help towards 'developing this critical science, to know the impact of a negative antibody test'.

He said this would mean being able to 'develop the systems of certification' so that 'people who have positive antibodies can be given assurance about what they can safely do'.

And he added: 'History has shown that understanding an enemy is fundamental to defeating it.'

The news comes as the RCGP urged the health secretary to set out a joined up strategy for the national testing programme, where 'the right people are tested at the right time'.

The college said that GPs' confidence in Covid-19 testing is being 'undermined' by lengthy waiting times for results and questions around accuracy of results 

Readers' comments (7)

  • This man has lied and missed his targets so many times I am not holding my breath. Still not seen those precious PPEs.

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  • If patients or staff "urgently" request this test from you please ask them: "if it comes back positive would you be willing to walk into A&E or ITU without any PPE?".

    If the answer is no then the only point in any antibody test regardless of how sensitive or specific it is would be for research only.

    Not to give people including doctors a false sense of security.

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  • There is £££ to be made by so much in this pandemic. Hancock knows it. He's extracting GP data without patients consent under covid legislation. No ones picked up on it! The GPES will include personal data on patients, including the NHS number, first name, postcode, address, gender, ethnicity, date of birth and date of death (if applicable); and clinical codes covering diagnoses and findings, medications and other prescribed items, treatments and outcomes, and vaccinations and immunisations. Pulse must dissipate to public! This is Hancock and Johnsons usa trade deal!

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  • DrRubbishBin

    "to start rolling out next week" ...i.e.avaliable in general practice where you are in about 3-4 months time.

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  • With a Positive test then a Covid hot hub and whhat passes for PPE(Pinny,Paper,Exhale) would be an acceptable job. As would a negative test and proper, decent PPE. A negative test and what passes for PPE? Rather go on the dole, sorry guvnor, its a killer to middle aged men like me.

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  • My dear colleagues This is a good test. Antibody test. NOT the swab test for antigen detection.
    I have written about testing in three open letters, contact me on

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  • What's the false positive rate with the antibody test? We need to know. If 93% of the test population has never been infected, but the false potive rate of the test is 5%, then 41% of the positive results will be false positives - and these people will still be susceptible to infection.
    And the BMJ this weeks cheerfully reassures us that 20% of those who had COVID symptoms for two days, still tested negative for the virus itself wityh the swab test.
    Countries where people have been wearing masks have had much milder epidemics than those where people don't. Maybe that's because the aerosolised virus can travel much further than six feet.

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