Shelagh Fogarty 1pm - 4pm
Coronavirus: when will the UK get antibody tests?
6 April 2020, 20:01 | Updated: 6 April 2020, 20:03
Eddie Mair asks the experts when the UK is likely to get the all important antibody tests.
The antibody test is a blood test which determines whether someone has had the virus and whether they have recovered - if they have fought off the virus it means their blood has the antibodies to defend itself against Covid-1o.
The long term plan is that if people do have the antibodies to fight the virus they can brandish a certificate confirming this and go about their normal lives.
Whitehall Editor at the Times Chris Smyth uncovered that the new testing chief had admitted none of the tests that had been ordered were good enough.
The government has been evaluating tests and so far none of them have worked, he said.
Chief medics leading the analysis say they will work with companies to make the tests better, but it "sounds like that is going to be a long-term process," Chris said, "it now sounds that these are a few months away."
Chris said the reason for this delay is that Covid-19 is a new virus and it is unsurprising they take a while to develop the test.
"There are some tests around the world that have been approved for use in the US and elsewhere, but those were all tested against Chinese patients in hospital.
"What we found while testing in this country is they're not very good at picking up people who have been only moderately ill with mild symptoms.
"If you're going to be sending out millions of kits through the post to find out who's had the virus... then you need it to pick up those cases as well. That's what they don't do at the moment."