About one in six people in London and one in 20 elsewhere in England have already had coronavirus, Matt Hancock said when he announced plans for antibody certificates.
Data collected from an antibody monitoring study suggests that 17% of people in London and about 5% in England have tested positive for antibodies to coronavirus, the health secretary told Downing Street daily.
It’s because the government has signed a deal with pharmaceutical companies Roche and Abbott on more than 10 million antibody tests to see if people have had Covid-19.
They will first be offered to health and social care workers, as well as to patients and residents of care homes, and the UK government also arranges supplies for the devolved administrations, with each country deciding how to use the test assignment.
While it remains unclear what level of immunity people develop once they have had Covid-19, some experts hope that a degree of immunity will last for at least a year or two.
However, having antibodies does not automatically mean that a person will not pass the virus on to someone else.
Mr. Hancock said, “This is an important milestone and represents further progress in our national testing program. If you know you have these antibodies, we can understand in the future whether you are at a lower risk of contracting coronavirus, dying from coronavirus, and transmitting coronavirus. ‘
He also announced a 20-minute rapid test trial to tell people if they currently have Covid-19, after criticizing people for waiting days or weeks for test results.
Emergency departments, GP test centers and nursing homes in Hampshire are testing the new test, which is used for up to 4,000 people.
The test does not need to be sent to a laboratory and will be rolled out if it proves to be effective, said Mr. Hancock.
Prior to the press briefing, Downing Street announced a reversal in the NHS surcharge, saying that overseas health and healthcare workers will be exempt from the fee that migrants must pay to pay for the NHS.
It came after mounting pressure on senior Boris Johnson of senior Tories, with former party chairman Lord Patten calling the charges “horrible” and “monstrous.”
Union leader Sir Keir Starmer, who urged the Prime Minister in the Commons on Wednesday to drop the charges, said: “Boris Johnson is right that you have made a U-turn and supported our proposal to cut the NHS tax on health workers and aid workers.
“This is a victory for decency and the right thing to do. We can’t clap our caregivers one day and then charge them to use our NHS the next day. ”
The decision came a day after another turning point when the government extended an arrangement that offered unlimited leave to the families of all NHS staff who die as a result of contracting the corona virus.
– The nation was on its way for the ninth week in a row to clap for NHS caretakers and key workers who have risked their lives against Covid-19.
– John Holland-Kaye, director of Heathrow Airport, tacitly supported the government’s plans to impose a 14-day quarantine program on anyone arriving in the UK from abroad, but strongly supported the idea of ” airlifts “between countries with lower infection levels.
– As of June 15, EasyJet will resume a small number of mainly domestic flights from 22 European airports.
– Crime in England and Wales has fallen by a quarter during the Covid-19 lockdown, new figures show.
– There was no evidence of increased coronavirus infection among NHS and frontline care personnel compared to those who did not work in such roles for two weeks in May, according to the ONS.
During the daily press briefing, Mr. Hancock said that certificates are being looked at for people who test positive for antibodies to coronavirus.
He said, “It’s not just about the clinical progress that these tests can bring.
“It is that if you know you have these antibodies, we will understand more in the future if you are at a lower risk of getting coronavirus, dying of coronavirus and transmitting coronavirus.
“We are developing this critical science to understand the impact of a positive antibody test and to develop certification systems to ensure that people with positive antibodies can be sure of what they can do safely.”
Meanwhile, Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, told the briefing that total all-cause deaths have now fallen in an average winter.
He said, “All-cause mortality has fallen at the same time that Covid deaths have fallen, and it’s about the same now as it was in an average winter.
“So we essentially have a winter in terms of health, in terms of mortality, but in late spring and early summer.”
Prof Whitty also said that deaths in nursing homes have peaked and are now declining.
On test, track and trace, Mr. Hancock tried to downplay the importance of the delayed app in the contact tracking process.
He originally said the app would roll out in mid-May, but now it’s delayed by several weeks.
The government aims to have 25,000 people-contact tracers by June 1 – the earliest date for schools and non-essential stores to open in England.
Mr. Hancock said, “Technology is an important part, but it is not the only one.”
He said that tests of the app on the Isle of Wight had shown that the elements for detecting human contact were also important so that people can understand the implications of what is needed if they have been around someone with coronavirus.
Professor John Newton, of Public Health England, said that doing the contact tracking process without the app may have benefits initially.