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10 million tests to find out who has already had COVID-19

21 May 2020

By Simon Gentry, Newgate Public Affairs

It was the turn of the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, to lead today’s government press conference.  He announced the rollout of newly approved antigen blood tests, which will reveal whether people have previously had coronavirus. 10 million tests have been bought from Roche and Abbott. NHS and social care staff will be first in line for the tests next week. He added that nobody is certain if people will have immunity or for how long but that this will give us all a real sense of how widespread the disease has been.  The government is also aiming to develop a ‘home-grown’ UK test.

He then announced that the antibody surveillance study has revealed that as many as 17% of people in London and 5% across the country, are likely to have had the disease, although this is based on a sample.   He added that the country needs major and widescale antigen testing regime.

He revealed that over 3 million tests have been administered for those who may have been infection at the time the tests were carried out.  Less than 10,000 people are currently in hospital, a fall of 14% from last week.  36,042 have now sadly died. Around 137,000 people currently have COVID-19, and around 61,000 are being infected each week, but this is falling. A new antibody test, that can tell if you have currently COVID19, is being trialled from today.  The new test can give results in 20 minutes and if it works it will be rolled out as quickly as possible.