A new test treatment for coronavirus has shown to be a "very positive development," in the words of Public Health England. The test was developed by Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, which looks for antibodies to see if a patient who has already contracted the virus might have some potential immunity.
Prof John Newton, the national coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing program, spoke to the BBC, who reported his findings on Thursday. "This is a very positive development because such a highly specific antibody test is a very reliable marker of past infection. This, in turn, may indicate some immunity to future infection, although the extent to which the presence of antibodies indicates immunity remains unclear."
Previously, tests like these had been deemed unreliable by officials, although Roche's test could have some serious potential for widespread use and be an effective tool in helping to contain coronavirus. It's based on the notion that antibodies are made by our immune system as it learns to fight infection. Finding antibodies that attack coronavirus show that the person has been infected in the past, but failed to prove if they'd be protected against it in the future.
Experts at the government's Porton Down facility had also evaluated the Roche test previously, finding that if someone had been infected, it gave the correct result 100 percent of the time. For those who hadn't caught the virus, it still gave the correct result more than 99.8 percent of the time.
Roche is currently reported to be in talks with the Department of Health and Social Care about possible use by England's National Health Service, where other testing products are also being assessed. Health officials in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will likely adopt the treatment as well, should England move forward. The test has already been approved by medical regulators in the EU as well as the United States.
This news comes just days after new evidence emerged that blood thinners may also be one of many possible treatments against coronavirus, particularly those who've been severely afflicted. One study, which focused on patients in New York City, showed that those who received anticoagulants were more likely to survive than those who weren't. The study looked at more than 2,700 patients who were treated at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital, which has seen a significant number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.