News, Policy & Media

23Jun

Scotland CMO casts doubt on antibody testing 'on demand'

Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Gregor Smith, has warned over providing ‘on-demand’ antibody testing to NHS staff, patients and care workers due to immunity concerns. The physician said that current science is not yet clear enough on whether a recovered COVID-19 patient is sufficiently protected from contracting the disease a second time. He said that he would keep the scientific evidence under review into the future.

"Having assessed the research available, there is currently insufficient clinical evidence to absolutely conclude that people who have recovered from Covid-19 are protected from either a second infection or from infecting others”, affirmed Dr. Smith. This opinion is reflected by the WHO, who say that there could be potentially harmful impacts to the community if a person is to alter their approach to or ignore social distancing advice upon receiving a positive antibody result. Such a result does not guarantee immunity according to present studies, nor does it exclude someone from social distancing expectations. Despite Dr. Smith’s warning, he maintains that the evidence could change. If the scientific proof points toward antibody presence in recovered individuals, it will be necessary to have a ‘national antibody programme’ prepared and ready to launch in the UK. This prospect is currently being prepared for, so that if the evidence arises, the NHS can rise to the challenge of widespread antibody testing and ‘realise the potential health, economic and social benefits this would offer’.

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