A second company has won approval from Public Health England to produce a Covid-19 antibody test, raising hopes that the virus could be tracked and contained successfully in the UK.
American multinational Abbott Laboratories has joined Swiss pharma company Roche in getting a green light from PHE. The company said it stood ready to ship “5m tests to the UK each month with immediate effect”, adding that it had already sent some to the NHS labs with which it was “working closely”.
Abbott’s lab-based test, which detects past infection with the virus, was endorsed by PHE on Thursday — hours after news emerged that its competitor Roche’s version had been evaluated successfully by the government agency. “The Abbott [test] is now at the same stage as Roche,” said PHE.
Governments expect antibody tests to be a key tool for tracking the spread of the virus and helping to decide how to ease lockdowns. Although antibodies confer a degree of immunity to future infection, it is far from clear how long such protection will last.