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Major programme to trace antibody role in virus susceptibility

Monday August 23rd 2021

A new UK COVID antibody surveillance programme will seek to establish the limits of the vaccination programme, it has been announced.

The UK Health Security Agency said thousands of adults would get “free” access to antibody tests after being diagnosed with viral infection as part of the programme.

The research will seek to identify why some people are falling ill in spite of having been vaccinated or having had the virus previously. The antibody testing will show the extent to which the problem is caused by people not developing antibodies.

The research has become urgent because there is little sign of the spread of the virus diminishing - putting those for whom vaccination is ineffective at risk.

Participants will take an antibody test after testing positive for infection through PCR – and will then take a second test 28 days later.

Agency chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said: “We are rolling out antibody testing across the UK to gain vital data into the impact of our vaccination programme and on immune responses to different variants of COVID-19.”

Dr Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, said: “Antibody testing will contribute to our understanding of the protection provided by vaccines. 87% of people aged 16 and over have now received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose and 76% have had their second dose.”

The UK yesterday reported 32,253 new cases of infection and 49 new deaths from the virus.

* The NHS is to adopt the first specially developed monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19, it has been announced.

Ronapreve can prevent and treat acute infection with the virus – but its use may be subject to further evaluation.

It has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – and the government says it is “working at pace” to ensure it is available on the NHS.

The treatment was developed and tested before vaccination – so new assessments will seek to establish its benefits for patients who have been vaccinated and also in treating new variants of the virus.

Tags: Flu & Viruses | NHS | UK News

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