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Government sourcing immunity test kits

A new test to check for people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have immunity is being looked for, the Government has said.

David Burt, the Premier, said blood tests to check for immunity was “something we are looking to be procured”.

But he added: “It's early days.”

The Premier said the procedure, called a serological test, could be useful for healthcare workers, because it showed if people had been exposed to the coronavirus earlier.

Mr Burt said on Sunday that some batches of blood tests had proved unreliable. He added: “We don't want to end up like Spain, reporting only 30 per cent of the tests were working. But yes, we are looking to get serological testing.”

Mr Burt emphasised: “It's important to note that testing is not for diagnosing. You use what we have, the real-time PCR test, to diagnose.”

PCR, polymerase chain reaction, uses swabs from the nose or throat of people suspected of being sick with Covid-19 to show if the virus is in the patient's system. Mr Burt said serological tests, so called because they use blood serum, could show if someone had “already been exposed, so the person might be able to go back to work”.

Michael Richmond, the chief of staff of Bermuda Hospitals Board, explained there were two serological tests available.

Antigen tests detect the presence of viral particles in the bloodstream. But Dr Richmond added: “This is in the early days at the moment.”

Dr Richmond said: “One is called antibody testing to determine whether or not the immune response has been triggered and somebody has had the illness.

“There is a separate test, called antigen testing, which is being introduced in other parts of the world.

“It can determine if, for instance, healthcare workers are currently carrying the illness, which is something that may prove very beneficial.”

Antibodies are produced by the immune system once someone has been infected by a virus to prevent reinfection.

Michael Richmond, Chief of Staff at the Bermuda Hospitals Board (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published April 02, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 02, 2020 at 8:59 am)

Government sourcing immunity test kits

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