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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