Antibody Tests Now Available for St George's Staff

Will help identify employees that had Covid-19 but were asymptomatic

Maria, a senior phlebotomist, taking blood samples from staff who attend for antibody testing

All staff at St George’s Hospital in Tooting are now able to access antibody tests to tell them if they have had coronavirus.

The test involves giving a blood sample which will be analysed for Covid-19 antibodies.

A positive result means someone has had the virus and staged an immune response to it, and is useful for understanding the spread of the virus.

However, it is important that people keep following infection control guidelines even if they get antibody status.

This is because it is not yet known if those who have had the virus develop long-lasting immunity that would prevent them from getting the virus again.

Likewise, even if you have had the virus, you still may be able to pass it on to others.

According to the St George’s latest board papers, published May 28, a total of 927 trust staff had previously undertaken a traditional swab test at the in-house Bence-Jones Testing Facility for Covid-19.

Of these, just over 45 per cent (431), had tested positive.

The new antibody test will be able to pick up on staff members who may have been asymptomatic and not tested at the time.

Antibody tests differ to virus swab (PCR) tests, which test to see if you currently have the virus.

The roll out of the antibody tests follows a government initiative to begin mass testing of NHS and care staff.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care there is now a 40,000 antibody testing capacity available daily to NHS and social care staff.

Results should be available within 24 hours.

Katie Minnett, a Senior Paediatric Nurse at St George’s, has been redeployed to work in the hospital’s Covid-19 staff testing pod.

She said: “This week we’ve started doing antibody testing for Covid-19 at the Bence Jones Unit. This is for staff at St George’s to be aware of their current antibody status.

“It’s very important that even though they might get the antibody status, that they still adhere to infection control guidelines and still follow the procedures within the hospital.”

As of June 2 2020, 291 patients have died at St George’s having tested positive for coronavirus.

A statement on the Trust’s website says: “Our thoughts are with the families of the patients affected – and, in all cases, we would ask that their privacy is respected at this time.”

Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter

June 8, 2020