The antibody tests – a blood sample taken by a trained professional – check to see if a person has had Covid-19, and if they have built up an immune response to it.
Announced in May by the Government, the antibody testing programme aims to provide a greater understanding on coronavirus, with ministers pledging tests to NHS and care staff in England first.
The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) confirmed on Wednesday, July 8 that 72% of its workforce had been tested to date, with colleagues carrying out the checks.
A statement from NEAS on social media said: “Back in May, we started carrying out antibody testing as part of a national programme aiming to better understand the virus.
“Antibody tests are used to detect antibodies to the Covid-19 virus, through a blood test to see if those tested previously had the virus.
“The aim of the test is for research into the virus and how it affects the body and whether it can be transmitted or not if you have Covid-19 antibodies.
“Our occupational health team, community paramedics and advanced practitioners have been out and about taking blood and, thanks to them, we’ve tested 2,020 members of staff so far – 72% of our workforce.”
NEAS’s last testing clinic is taking place today (Thursday, July 9). The results then go up to NHS England for processing, with the final results expected next week.
A positive antibody test tells you whether you’ve had the virus that causes Covid-19, and that your body has produced an immune response to it.
This does not mean that you’re now immune to it, cannot pass the virus onto others and can ignore social distancing measures.
As understanding of coronavirus develops, these antibody tests will assist in answering more questions, such as how long an antibody response lasts, and whether having antibodies stops tranmission of coronavirus.
Clinicians are also able to request tests for patients both in hospital and social settings, where they feel it is appropriate.