Frontline workers will be first in the queue for new antibody test

A test to find out whether people have been infected with coronavirus in the past has been approved by health officials and is likely to be rolled out to frontline workers first. Public Health England (PHE) said the antibody test, developed by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, was a “very positive development” after experts at its Porton Down facility gave it the green light. The test – which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously called a “game-changer” – picks up 100% of cases where somebody has had coronavirus in the past. Experts believe those who have had Covid-19 develop a degree of immunity, meaning the test could prove a useful tool for helping to ease lockdown restrictions. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the idea of an “immunity certificate” was still under consideration if science showed that people developed immunity to Covid-19. “This is a very positive development because such a highly specific antibody test is a very reliable marker of past infection. Health minister Edward Argar said the Government intends to roll out the new test to frontline workers first. A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are exploring the use of antibody testing across the NHS and ultimately the wider public. In a frank admission, he also said the Government had not thought enough about the importance of testing – including for care homes – during his years as health secretary.