New report monitors the largest antibody testing programme for COVID-19

A new report tracking the progress of the world’s largest home antibody testing programme has been published by the Department of Health.

Over 100,000 volunteers have taken part in antibody testing programme for coronavirus, which tracks the spread of COVID-19 across England following the first peak of the pandemic. All of the volunteers tested themselves at home using a finger-prick test between 20 June and 13 July, to check if they have antibodies against the virus which causes COVID-19.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:

  • The findings indicate that 3.4 million people in England – 6% of the population – had already been infected by COVID-19 by 13 July 2020, with variations across the country.
  • The study showed high rates in those with people-facing jobs in care homes (16%) and health care (12%), compared to 5% of people who were not key workers.
  • There were far higher rates in people from Black (17%), Asian (12%) and other ethnicity (12%) than white (5%) ethnicity. Work is underway between the Department of Health, local Directors of Public Health and local authorities to understand and mitigate risks of transmission for BAME communities at a local level.
  • Almost everyone with a confirmed case of COVID was found to have antibodies (96%).
  • Those aged 18 to 34 were most likely to have antibodies (8%) with the lowest prevalence in those over 65 (3%).
  • People living in households of more than 6 or 7 people (12%, 13%) were more likely to have had the virus compared to those living alone or with one other (5%)

It is the first mass antibody surveillance study to be rolled out across the country, using a finger prick test that can be used at home. This surveillance study will be repeated in autumn and will test a further 200,000 people for antibodies.