Antigen and Antibody Tests. Why both are needed to give the greatest understanding of UK infection.
It’s widely reported that the UK government are trialling lateral flow rapid tests for mass Covid-19 diagnosis, particularly in areas with high levels of infection, such as Liverpool.
However, these rapid tests are designed to identify antigens, i.e. the presence of the virus, meaning the patient is currently infected. They are not designed to detect antibodies, indicating the person was infected in the past. With the UK now being in the second wave of the pandemic, with well over 1.5 million cases so far, the possibility of previous infection must be considered.
Here at MEDsan UK, we provide both rapid antigen and antibody tests to governments, hospitals and private businesses around the world. We advise our customers to use a combination of both tests to offer the most comprehensive testing program.
We advise that if a person tests negative for coronavirus using an antigen test, either lateral flow or PCR, they should then undertake an antibody test to see if they have had the virus in the past. This will enable us to have a clearer view on the state of both present and past infection in the UK.
If a person tests positive for antibodies, they should continue to use an antibody test every 2 months to see if they continue to hold the antibodies for coronavirus over an extended period of time.
Similarly, repeated antibody testing should also be offered for those who test positive for infection, so they can monitor the presence of antibodies once the initial infection has passed.
It’s encouraging to see the UK government are at last looking to mass rapid testing to get a grip on the pandemic. However, only through utilising both antigen and antibody tests will we be able to achieve a fully comprehensive understanding of the infection status of the UK.
Whether the patient has previously been infected or not, social distancing measures must continue to be observed.