Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said there will be a rapid roll-out of Roche antibody test. Public Health England (PHE) said the antibody test, developed by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, was a “very positive development” after experts at its Porton Down facility gave it the green light. The test – which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously called a “game-changer” – picks up 100 percent of cases where somebody has had coronavirus in the past.
Speaking at Downing Street, Professor Van-Tam said: “We have been waiting for a really good antibody test to be ready.
“There are now at least two available.
“One of those has received it’s CE mark of April 20, the Roche test.
“It was validated by Public Health England on May 7 and I anticipate it will be rapidly rolled out in the days and weeks to come as soon as it is practical to do so.
“I also anticipated the focus will be on the NHS and carers in the first instance.”
The test could pave the way for people who have antibodies to be issued with a certificate showing their Covid-19 status and potential immunity.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said if antibodies provide immunity it would be “game-changing because it would enable us to do things in terms of releasing lockdowns that wouldn’t be possible otherwise”.
Roche said it was able to produce hundreds of thousands of the tests per week for the United Kingdom. Germany is getting three million of them this month, and five million a month after June.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper, which first reported the findings, said the government was in negotiations with Roche to buy millions of kits.
The antibody tests – also known as a serology test – show who has been infected, although it is not yet clear whether the presence of antibodies to the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, confers permanent immunity.
They require a blood test that can be run on fully-automated equipment in laboratories to provide results in just 18 minutes.