UK to Offer COVID-19 Antibody Tests to the Public for the First Time

The government of the United Kingdom announced on Aug. 22 that it will begin offering free COVID-19 antibody tests to the public for the first time to gain more understanding on the immunity against COVID-19.

The UK Health Security Agency has launched a new national surveillance program that will provide thousands of adults each day with free access to antibody tests starting on Aug. 24.

The UK Health Security Agency will use the data from the program for its ongoing response to COVID-19, the government said.

“Our new national antibody testing will be quick and easy to take part in, and by doing so you’ll be helping strengthen our understanding of COVID-19 as we cautiously return to a more normal life,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement.

Anyone aged over 18 years across the UK will be able to opt-in when taking a PCR test and up to 8,000 of those who test positive will be sent two-finger antibody tests to complete at home and to send back to a lab for analysis.

The first test would have to be done as soon as possible after the positive test result because it will determine the level of antibodies a person had before their current infection.

The second test would then be taken 28 days after testing positive for COVID-19 because it will measure the antibodies generated in response to getting infected.

“By comparing the two antibody test results, the UK Health Security Agency will be able to see how well vaccinated individuals boost their immunity when they are infected and how this might vary with different variants,” the government said.

Previously, antibody testing has only been available to limited people, largely those involved in studies or surveys for clinical or research purposes.

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