Today, thousands of people in the UK who test positive for coronavirus will be offered a free antibody test as part of a nationwide COVID antibody surveillance programme that hopes to seek answers as to how fully vaccinated adults, and those recently infected can catch the virus.
8,000 residents to take part in antibody programme
The UK government is launching the scheme today, and of those who receive a positive COVID PCR test, around 8,000 will also be given two finger-prick antibody tests to conduct at home and then send back to the labs for analysis.
The first antibody test must be taken immediately after the positive COVID result and the other 28 days later to measure the antibody protection generated post-infection.
The Department of Health and Social Care revealed that this is the first time antibody tests have been released for at-home use. They hope the mass programme will provide vital insight into how vaccines and COVID antibodies stand up against different variants.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid commented: Our new national antibody testing will be quick and easy to take part in. By doing so you'll be helping strengthen our understanding of Covid-19 as we cautiously return to a more normal life.’
I'm proud to see all parts of the UK uniting around this new initiative and working together to arm ourselves with even more valuable insights into how Covid-19 vaccines are protecting people up and down the UK.
UK warned not to take ‘eye off the ball’
News of the antibody surveillance programme comes soon after expert Dr Chris Smith warned the country not to take their ‘eye off the ball’ as the virus could return full force. He told the BBC: ‘We all agree that (the pandemic) is not over until it is over in every corner of the world, because otherwise, it will just come roaring back.’
Don’t forget we think that this started with a handful of cases in one city, in one corner of one country... and it then eclipsed the entire world. But one must not take one’s eye off the ball here because it would be very easy to unstitch all of the good work we’ve done so far if it turns out with time we do lose immunity because the vaccines wane in their effectiveness.
The consultant virologist and lecturer at Cambridge University continued to state that decisions around booster vaccines shouldn’t be rushed, and the government will be taking a more ‘strategic approach.’ Dr Chris Smith continued:
As we go into winter, now is a critical period and I think that is why we haven’t seen a rash, rushed decision by the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) and the Government.
Despite experts demanding more time for decisions around the necessity of the booster campaign, Sajid Javid is confident that the shots can be rolled out as early as next month, with 87% of adults surveyed by the Office for National Statistics claiming they would be willing to take the third dose.
So far, around 87% of people over the age of 16 have received their first COVID jab, while 76% have already had their second dose. However, as of Saturday, the 21st of August, Public Health England (PHE) confirmed there were 32,058 cases of coronavirus, and 104 people had died within 28 days of contracting the virus.