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Coronavirus: Screening

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 68733, tabled on 3 July 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the accuracy and reliability of antibody testing to test whether a patient has previously contracted covid-19 and whether they have some immunity to the virus.

This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.

Answered on

28 September 2020

A positive antibody test result indicates that you have previously had the virus and have developed some form of immune response. However, we do not yet know how long the antibody response lasts, so we do not know how long it might help someone resist the virus.

We also do not know whether having antibodies means someone cannot transmit the virus to others. Serology assays deployed by the National Health Service have been independently validated by Public Health England (PHE), and the results of PHE’s assessment for the assays are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-laboratory-evaluations-of-serological-assays

All the tests met the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency recommendation of 98% specificity and 98% sensitivity when the assay was performed on samples taken 30 days post-symptom onset.

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