April 6, 2020 / 5:00 PM / 3 months ago

Top English health official confident working antibody test will be found

FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is confident of developing antibody tests for immunity to the coronavirus and health officials are not discouraged by the ineffectiveness of early tests that have been assessed, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said on Monday.

Whitty said that antibody tests - which would detect whether people had previously been infected with COVID-19 and therefore had immunity to the disease - would be more useful when more of the population had developed antibodies later in the epidemic.

“You’ve got to remember this is a new disease ... inevitably we’re feeling our way to some extent. I am very confident we will develop antibody tests, whether they be lab-based or dipstick based over the next period, I am very confident of that,” he said at a news conference

“The fact that we have not, in our first pass, in the first things that people produced, got ones which are highly effective is not particularly surprising to anybody who understands how tests are developed.”

Reporting by Costas Pitas, Paul Sandle and Elizabeth Howcroft, writing by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison

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