Major antibody test study shows 6% England infected by Covid-19
Billed as the ‘world’s largest home antibody testing programme for coronavirus’, the study tracked the spread of infection across England after the first peak.Updated: Aug 13, 2020 14:21 IST
People living in London and those of Indian and Asian background are most likely to have been infected by coronavirus, a large study by Imperial College London published on Thursday said, adding that 6% of England’s population has been infected so far.
The 6% reflects 3.4 million people, the study in which over 100,000 volunteers took part, said. Billed as the ‘world’s largest home antibody testing programme for coronavirus’, the study tracked the spread of infection across England after the first peak.
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People living in London were most likely to have been infected, as were those working in care homes and health care, and people from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups and people living in larger households, it said.
Officials said it is the first mass antibody surveillance study to be rolled out across the UK using a finger prick test that can be used by individuals at home, if given approval in the future.
While research showed several finger prick tests were accurate enough for large-scale surveillance studies to monitor the spread of coronavirus, no antibody fingerpick test has yet met the regulator’s criteria for individual use, which means none are currently approved for use outside of surveillance studies.
Health minister Edward Argar said: “Large scale antibody surveillance studies are crucial to helping us understand how the virus has spread across the country and whether there are specific groups who are more vulnerable, as we continue our work to drive down the spread of the disease”.
“We don’t yet know that antibodies provide immunity to coronavirus, but the more information we can gather on this virus, and the easier we can make it for people to participate in these studies, the better equipped we will be to respond”.
Key findings of the report study include: In London, 13% of people had antibodies while in the South West of England it was less than 3%; there were far higher rates in people from Black (17%), Asian (12%) and other (12%) than white (5%) ethnicity.
Almost everyone with a confirmed case of the virus was found to have antibodies (96%).
Those aged 18 to 34 were most likely to have antibodies (8%) with the lowest prevalence in those over 65 (3%).
Graham Cooke, who led the research at Imperial College, said: “There are still many unknowns with this new virus, including the extent to which the presence of antibodies offers protection against future infections”.
“Using the finger-prick tests suitable for large scale home testing has given us clearest insight yet into the spread of the virus in the country and who has been at greatest risk. These data will have important implications as decisions to ease lockdown restrictions in England”.