Researchers are using antibody tests developed at Imperial to confirm past COVID-19 infection in NHS staff.
The tests, which have been developed by a team in the Department of Infectious Diseases, have been conducted on NHS staff at Imperial to assess whether they have previously been infected with the virus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
Professor Graham Taylor shared insights into the antibody testing programme at a recent Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) seminar. Professor Taylor is part of the team in the Department of Infectious Diseases – led by Professors Myra McClure and Richard Tedder – that developed the tests.
At the recent AHSC seminar, Professor Taylor explained how the team developed the antibody tests and the different approaches they took to detect antibodies in the blood.
He explained that, in total, more than 20,000 members of staff and patients from two NHS trusts in London have been screened for antibodies by North West London Pathology with 2000 samples sent to Imperial’s Molecular Diagnostic Unit for further testing. The results will help indicate how many people had COVID-19 and recovered, including those who didn’t have symptoms.
Watch the video below to hear Professor Taylor's presentation in full:
What is an antibody test?
An antibody test screens for antibodies in the blood. The body naturally produces these to fight infections, like COVID-19. It is believed that people who have recovered from COVID-19 should not be contagious and it is hoped that they are immune to re-infection. Antibodies are a key component of the immune system and act as ‘record cards’ of any virus the body encounters, enabling the immune system to quickly recognise and destroy the virus when exposed again.
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