Speaking to ITV Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan, Dr Hilary Jones warned the latest approval by the Government of antibody tests produced by Roche will not guarantee a return to normal life as scientists still debate whether coronavirus antibodies prevent a person from being reinfected. He said: “It doesn’t tell you if you’re necessarily immune or for how long, okay?
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“So that’s a big difference. I think a lot of people are jumping to the conclusion that ‘oh have an antibody test, you had the virus, you’re fine to go back to work, everything is hunky dory for the next 10, 20 years’.
“We don’t know that.
“Of course, they are hopeful. Usually, you have a virus or a bacteria and then you develop antibodies and you’re immune.
“Some viruses, if you had them, will give you immunity for life.
“This is why you only need vaccination for measles or rubella once.”
An antibody test can detect if a person has had coronavirus before and has since recovered, and has been regarded as essential for reopening the UK from the pandemic lockdown.
Public Health England (PHE) approved the first antibody test kit with 100 percent accuracy levels developed by Swiss healthcare company Roche.
This accuracy has now been confirmed by experts from PHE’s Porton Down facility last week.
And now the Department of Health is in negotiations with Roche to buy millions of the testing kit.
Roche said they stand ready to provide hundreds of thousands of laboratory-based tests to the NHS each week.
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The news has been well received, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously described acquiring these tests as “game-changing”.
A Government source also said to the Telegraph: “We want to get our hands on as many of these as possible.”
Scientists believe people who produce antibodies after having coronavirus may develop immunity to catching the virus again, making them safe to return to work.
The Government has suggested the tests could be used to grant “immunity passports”, allowing them to resume normal life without restrictions, but only on an individual basis.
Professor John Newton, the national coordinator of the UK Coronavirus Testing Programme, said : “We were confident that good quality antibody tests would become available when they were needed.
“Last week, scientific experts at PHE Porton Down carried out an independent evaluation of the new Roche SARS-CoV-2 serology assay in record time, concluding that it is a highly specific assay with specificity of 100 per cent.
“This is a very positive development, because such a highly specific antibody test is a very reliable marker of past infection.
“This in turn may indicate some immunity to future infection, although the extent to which the presence of antibodies indicates immunity remains unclear.”
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