Largest study on home coronavirus antibody testing publishes first findings

More than 100,000 people across England have tested themselves for Covid-19 antibodies as part of a major national research programme supported by Keele University.

Keele took part in the second part of the programme called REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT-2), led by Imperial College London. As part of the programme new diagnostic tests were trialled using frontline workers in a temporary testing centre based on the Keele campus.

The programme used antibody finger-prick tests to track past infections and monitor the progress of the pandemic. It’s the first nation-wide antibody surveillance study to be rolled out across England using self-testing at home.

The findings, available in a non-peer-reviewed report published on medRxiv, show that slightly under 6% of the population had antibodies to the virus and had likely previously had Covid-19 by the end of June, an estimated 3.4 million people.

Keele’s testing centre helped the trial select the best antibody test to use in the nation-wide surveillance survey. The best performing test was then rolled out to a nationally-representative sample of the public, who were randomly selected, between 20 June and 13 July. The tests use a drop of blood from the finger and give a result in just 15 minutes, which participants read themselves and upload via an online survey.

For more information read about the full programme here.