That Would Be A Serological Matter [Updated]



At the Department of Health’s Covid-19 press briefing, chief medical officer Tony Holohan was asked a question about antibody testing.

It followed UK MPs being told earlier today that the British public will be able to carry out Covid-19 antibody tests at home within a matter of days via finger prick tests made available from Amazon and Boots.

Mr Holohan had the following exchange about the matter with RTÉ George Lee…

George Lee: “In the UK, yesterday, they made a big point of the fact that they’d ordered three million kits for testing people for antibodies, to encourage, so they know when people can go back to work. Do we have any idea or any notions along the same lines because there are a lot of people who would probably like to go back to work, wouldn’t like to be off for many weeks, would like to know if they had antibodies.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t being tested who may, kind of, have already had this disease. As they said in the North, they figure there’s thousands rather  hundreds.

“So have you any plans to start to order, like they have in the UK, a significant number of antibody tests, as part of the overall strategy?”

Tony Holohan: “So we want to be in a situation where we have a reliable serological test that we can use for a variety of purposes, including the purpose that you’ve identified.

“We’re not at a point yet, where we’ve identified a test that we think can be used in this country in the way that you’re describing…”

Lee: “So you would not be satisfied with the UK…what they’re buying…”

Holohan: “I’m not going to criticise the UK, I’m simply going to say that we haven’t been satisfied yet that that’s a step that we’re ready to take. There have been significant differences in policy here around testing of our population, around public health recommendations as between here and the UK.

“We think we’re following the right strategy now in terms of focusing our testing on identifying confirmed cases of this illness and instituting control measures and contact tracing measures in the population. Those are measures that are not currently part of the strategy in the UK and they’ve moved to a different testing regime in terms of serological testing, [inaudible] patient testing kits.

“We don’t think we’re ready for that step at this point. We want to focus our efforts on the public health containment measures that we now have in place in the population.”

Lee: “Thank you.”


The public will be able to conduct coronavirus antibody tests at home within a matter of days with finger prick kits that will be available from Amazon and Boots, UK MPs have heard

This afternoon.

Via The Telegraph:

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service, Public Health England (PHE) told the Science and Technology Committee that 3.5 million tests had been bought and would be available in the “near future”.

She said the tests would also allow key workers – like doctors and nurses – to go back to work if they have developed antibodies.

Prof Peacock explained a small number of tests would be tested in a laboratory before being distributed via Amazon and in places like Boots.

Coronavirus antibody home testing kits will be available ‘within days’ from Amazon and Boots (The Telegraph)



Serological testing – the test that looks for antibodies in your blood – was briefly mentioned on RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke  during an interview with Dr Liam Glynn, Professor of General Practice, Graduate Entry Medical School, at the University of Limerick, following a question from a listener.

Mr O’Rourke and Dr Glynn had this exchange.

Seán O’Rourke: “I’m wondering if you might be able to take some of the questions coming from our listeners on the fly, as it were. A question for the doctor: how long does the virus stay in the system?

“Will it be still traceable by swab after a few weeks after the infection?”

Dr Liam Glynn: “No not by swab, there’s a thing called serological testing where a blood sample is taken to check that you have developed antibodies for the virus.

“And this is actually an important part of the public health approach in some countries because what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to identify then people who have developed immunity to the virus and now can, for example, in the case of a healthcare worker, for example, can go back to work or in the case of someone who is providing an essential service can also go back to work.

“So serological testing may be something that might be important in the weeks ahead.”

Listen back in full here

Pic: Sky News

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19 thoughts on “That Would Be A Serological Matter [Updated]

      1. Cian

        According to another source:

        Q: How soon after infection does the test detect if you have antibodies?

        A: Usually after 7 days of infection.

        Which suggests that it is more likely to tell that you have had it.

        1. some old queen

          Well, virology tests usually produce one of there results, -, + no antibodies, + with antibodies but yes, in this case they appear to be testing for anti bodies rather than the virus itself.

          Does that mean anti bodies = immunity mind? I assumed infectiousness comes from the viral load meaning how much of it is in your blood. Time will tell- it is progress either way.

  1. some old queen

    This is absolutely huge- the ability to test in 15 minutes and also, the ability to know if you have developed immunity to it. There is also an underlying assumption that you can only catch it once, which would make sense.

    But, in order to have these kits available within days, they have had to have the technology under wraps for quite some time- including the actual blood tests and especially, the test kit manufacturing.

  2. Dr.Fart

    regulate sales. don’t allow people buy multpile kits. it may sound silly but people are silly, they will buy in bulk thinking if they need to, they can then repeatedly test themselves in the future. don’t give responsibility to people, they need enforcement.

  3. PandyAndy

    As I read it, the tests are to check if you have HAD it and HAVE now recovered. To test for antibodies means you have recovered from it. So buying them to check if you HAVE it will be no good. Great idea if it is true and works. Might mean a lot of social distancing measures in workplaces could be lifted.

    1. some old queen

      Recovery in 7 days seems like a bit of a stretch- but then again, from Iceland where they tested everyone, 50% were asymptomatic in the first place.

      Even on a human level, the idea for sick people being treated without the medics looking like something out of a sci-fi movie is comforting.

      Outside of medicine- I genuinely hope that those who test positive for anti bodies put their status to some sort of altruistic use.

  4. f_lawless

    Maybe they re-open the pubs and put a bouncer on the door with a supply of these. You don’t get in unless you do the test and prove you’ve got the antibodies!

  5. Frank

    the HSE has totally failed us in regard testing. what happened the 40,000 tests that were meant to be delivered last Thursday.
    a lie.
    these testing centres in croke park, navy ships etc.
    a lie.
    advice from the HSE is currently if you’re waiting for a test you now need 2 symptoms and should reconnect with your GP.
    so your GP got €30 for the first phone consultation from the HSE and now will get another €30 for the second phone consultation.
    multiply that by 10000s of calls and you have some very wealthy GPs.
    and no tests.
    this is a scandal make no mistakes.

    1. MaryLou's ArmaLite

      The HSE are annoyed at hypochondriacs and people with head colds wasting their time. I know one girl who made such a fuss on the phone, she had an HSE ambulance car come to her door, on St Patrick’s day, to have swabs taken. She was drinking gin 3 hrs later. The test was negative. There is a lot of work in separating the wheat from the chaff

  6. Kerryview

    Boots UK know nothing about it. It’s just the establishment letting a dummy runner loose. No doubt someone will my sources revealed. BBC and CH4, for starters.

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