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Independents' Day

Let them eat antibody tests


Blimey, such excitement. Seeing the staff this animated must mean that we’ve had a consignment either of cakes from the cake lady who bakes them regularly for us, because she cares, or of PPE from the NHS which delivers almost never, because it doesn’t.

But no. It’s neither. The staff are, in fact, animatedly discussing the news that they can now get a Covid-19 antibody test. Yes! It’s the game-changer!! The test that we all need!!! The one that they’re prioritising healthcare staff for because we’re special!!!! The thing that we want even more than PPE, or Victoria sponge!!!!!

Well, I really hate to burst their bubble. But me asking them whether they understand the implications leads to looks as blank as the test’s consent form. Yes, a consent form which lists as the risks associated with the Covid-19 antibody testing only the likes of dizziness or bruising.

I’m not trying to put the ‘anti’ into ‘antibody’, but I do think they should take the ‘con’ out of ‘consent’

So, nothing about possible adverse implications for various types of insurance applications or renewals or nothing about a positive test potentially being an unwanted passport to the frontline in the event of a cataclysmic second wave.

30 seconds later - that half minute comprising the information above, a sentence on how a positive test means and changes nothing, and the explanation that they are in fact entering an epidemiological study – and the tone has changed.

Which just goes to show, I think, that this blood test has been under explained and over-sold. I’m not trying to put the ‘anti’ into ‘antibody’, but I do think they should take the ‘con’ out of ‘consent’. In the meantime, I’ll do my bit to redress the balance, which in this case has transformed their enthusiasm to indignity. And their intentions from: ‘I’m going for the test’ to, ‘I’m going for some cake’. Of which we have plenty.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at

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Readers' comments (11)

  • There appears to be a reasonable evidence base accumulating that you could be negative and still immune as a T cell immunity can also develop in people with very mild or no symptoms.
    We may find that these antibody tests may not capture a vast number of persons who have been exposed and are in fact probably immune

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  • Although I have had known exposure to Covid. I had positive antibodies with one test and negative with another test. Both PHE approved. I was also asymptomatic. My head is in a spin. Tests are still unreliable.

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  • There are much nicer cakes than Victoria Sponge
    (just saying...and personal opinion).

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  • Like your emis data extractions...all you are doing is collating PHE data on virus coverage in the UK for them, for free.

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  • I would have thought, testing positive, means that you are less likely to die from covid, as already been exposed, and thus lower risk of claiming on your insurance. Our insurance payments should go down, not up. If not then why not? thats the question people should be asking

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  • home made maltezer chocolate cake every time. covers every emergency

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  • @Decorum Est :
    you should consider changing your baker!
    I like other cakes too, but a well-made VS is yummy!
    You can even put maltesers in it!

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  • Another very useful ,futile exercise in time wastage.All left wondering why these have been done and how they will be used .Cant help feeling paranoid that yes it could be used to expel us into more risk if positive.Money for this but yet no effective contact tracing, support for managing all the huge backlog of issues with patient delays or management of postcovid patients.Bring on the cake !

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  • It all pales into insignificance compared to the truly bizarre format the pcr screening results are now coming through into EMIS

    Ami I the only sad person to have noticed that the complex code that apparently = covid+ve (no idea if they know, were ill, or just wanted somewhere new to go to for a drive) ends ORGY!
    I think someone somewhere - probably the grey professors on the daily death show - have some questions to answer!!
    If you haven't noticed go look - true honestly!!!

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  • 2 people I know are negative on our hospital antibody test ( to the N protein or Nucleoside) but positive to the S Protein (spike protein) run elsewhere. It seems some people only make antibodies to one of the 4 virus proteins therefore a negative test means nothing- you may still be positive to a protein not tested by most hospital trusts. Also everyone I know with positive antigen and antibody are negative on a wide range of home kits- don’t waste your money.

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