Almost 1 in 5 in London have coronavirus antibodies, as tests will be rolled out next week, Matt Hancock confirms


ALMOST one in five in London have coronavirus antibodies, Matt Hancock revealed today.

The Health Secretary announced the results of an antibody study which found 17 per cent of people in the capital had had the virus.

Matt Hancock said that the tests would be rolled out in the next week to NHS workers

About five per cent of people outside of London have had it too, he added.

“History has shown that understanding an enemy is crucial to defeating it,” he told the nation at this evening’s press conference.

The news comes today after it was revealed that London has reported NO new coronavirus cases for 24 hours – giving a glimmer of hope that lockdown measures could soon be eased further.
The capital has been one of the hardest hit regions in the UK since it’s first reported case in February.

But Mr Hancock stressed that the Government was “not yet in a position to say that those who test positive are immune” to getting the virus again.

The Government is ramping up antibody tests to roll them out across the nation, to find out the true spread of the disease.

Mr Hancock confirmed tonight that the Government has sealed a huge deal with Roche to roll out antibody tests to NHS workers from next week.

A deal for 10million tests has been signed, and it will be free of charge to those who need them, No 10 confirmed today.

It will tell if someone has had the virus – even if they were asymptomatic.

“It’s that knowing that you have these antibodies will help us understand more in future if you’re at lower risk of catching, dying or transmitting coronavirus,” Mr Hancock added.

Official figures show more than 35,000 people have died due to the coronavirus and the new test will help provide information on the level of immunity some patients have towards the virus.

The tests will help the lab understand how many people in the population is affected and it will then become part of a nationwide track and trace initiative, which will begin from June 1.

Made by Roche, it is set to compliment current antigen testing that involves a swab and tells you if you currently have the bug.

It comes after Superdrug yesterday became the first high street shop to sell a home test for Covid-19, with kits selling out within hours of being added to their website.

NHS England’s medical director Stephen Powis did however urge caution with regards to home tests warning it’s not known “how good they are”.

On Monday no new cases of the killer bug were recorded in London and the East of England, according to data published yesterday by Public Health England.

PHE Health chiefs have cautioned not to look too much into this figure as it could be an anomaly.

A Department of Health spokesperson stressed this doesn’t mean the epidemic is tailing off.

On Sunday, PHE data shows 19 mores cases of Covid-19 were recorded in London – and the same figure on Saturday.

Figures from Thursday and Friday show 77 and 53 more coronavirus cases were recorded in the capital.

The latest figure could be attributed to a glitch similar to when the Covid-19 patient notification system stopped working temporarily on May 16.

In London, a total of 5,819 people have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, according to the PHE figures published for Tuesday.

Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 5,903 deaths related to coronavirus were recorded in London up to May 13.

The declining number of cases and deaths is one of the five tests the UK needs to pass before lockdown is lifted.

Another one of the tests is to see the infection or “R” rate drop to below one.

Superdrug is the first high street shop to start selling a finger prick antibody test for coronavirus to the public

In a statement the  Department of Health and Social Care in England said: Antibody testing is an important part of our strategy to counter the spread of COVID-19 and to help us understand who has had the disease.

“In addition to the recent huge expansion of the UK’s swab-based coronavirus testing capacity, we are actively developing our plans for antibody testing across the NHS and ultimately the wider public.”