Antibody (blood) test
Antibody testing is part of the Government’s testing programme and may play an increasingly important role as we move into the next phase of responding to the pandemic.
Antibody testing is available to anyone over the age of 18 who has taken a PCR test and got a positive result or anyone participating in antibody research or surveys. It is no longer generally available to NHS staff, regardless of their role. People must register for an antibody test via the national online portal where it is now an option when applying for a PCR test.
Current evidence seems to suggest that those who have had the virus do not develop long-lasting immunity which would prevent them from getting the virus again, as it is possible for people to get COVID-19 a second time. Antibody testing at this stage is useful primarily to improve our understanding about the spread of the virus.
Antibody testing is available to staff working in paid adult social care. This applies to all staff working in local authorities and independent providers. Guidance and a video have been made available for adult social care staff who sign up for an antibody test and are sent an antibody home test kit. Coronavirus antibody testing home test kit: taking a blood sample.
In order to better understand the role that an antibody test could play in our response to the epidemic, we need to improve our understanding of how the immune system responds to the virus that causes Covid-19. This is being done through antibody research and surveys. We do not currently know how long an antibody response to the virus lasts.
Testing positive after an antibody test does not, therefore, mean you are immune. Anyone who tests positive with an antibody test must continue to follow Government guidelines to protect themselves and others. They must continue to:
- wash their hands regularly (for at least 20 seconds),
- follow social distancing guidance where these remain in place (usually health and care environments),
- wear face coverings where this requirement remains in place and in crowded in-door locations,
- wear PPE in all the circumstances it was worn previously (where applicable)
- and get tested if they have any symptoms.
Having a positive antibody test does not mean you cannot get the virus again.
Our understanding of the virus will grow as new scientific evidence and studies emerge.