A pharmacist takes a blood sample for an antibody rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19

The United Kingdom will begin offering COVID-19 antibody testing to the general public.

According to multiple media outlets, the government is trying to produce data on antibody protections for people following infections by different coronavirus strains.

Sky News reported that from Tuesday anyone aged 18 or over in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, will be able to opt into the program when receiving a PCR test.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it would be quick and easy to take part. He believes that it can “strengthen our understanding of Covid-19 as we cautiously return to a more normal life”.

Participants, on testing positive for COVID-19, will be sent two finger-prick tests to complete at home to inform the UK Health Security Agency of the antibody response to different coronavirus variants, BBC reported.

The first test is to be taken as soon as possible after the patient gets their positive result, and the second one should be taken 28 days later. 

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that up to 8,000 people will be enrolled in the program.

The Agency’s chief executive Dr. Jenny Harries said the program would help the UK gain “vital insight” into immune responses to different variants.

UKHSA, working alongside NHS Test and Trace, will use the results to monitor antibody levels in positive cases.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf welcomed news of the study, saying: “It is vital that we have the fullest understanding possible of vaccine effectiveness and the immune response of the broader population.

“The rollout of this antibody testing study will help us achieve this and could play an important role in the battle to keep the virus under control.”


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