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Bingham-based Medichecks fingerprick anti-body test tracks unique response to coronavirus and the vaccine

A health-check service has launched an anti-body test to track unique responses to coronavirus and the vaccine.

The Bingham-based Medichecks fingerprick test can be taken at home and detects anti-bodies to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 (covid-19).

The service said it means individuals can monitor their personal anti-body levels, paving the way for better intelligence on immune response among different people. The test can be taken at three-to-four-month intervals, to measure variation.

The fingerprick anti-body test. Medichecks, of Bingham. (45665602)
The fingerprick anti-body test. Medichecks, of Bingham. (45665602)

Results will identify a figure on a scale of 0.4 to 2,500 (units per millilitre). A score of below 0.8 means no anti-bodies were detected, while anything above this shows the presence of anti-bodies to the virus.

Results are available within two to three days via Royal Mail.

Dr Sam Rodgers, chief medical officer at Medichecks — the UK’s longest-standing online consumer blood testing provider — said: “What is being learnt about covid-19’s impact on the immune system is still a moving target, but this test lets people monitor their anti-body levels over time. It is not yet known how long immunity, once it has developed, will fade, what level of anti-bodies provides immunity to coronavirus or at what level re-vaccination will be needed.

Blood sugar test stock. This is not the Medichecks fingerprick test.
Blood sugar test stock. This is not the Medichecks fingerprick test.

“It is also a focus of ongoing study whether anti-bodies may drop more quickly in certain groups of people, or if a covid-19 infection generates more or less antibodies than the vaccine.

“We won’t completely rid the UK of covid-19 anytime soon, but the more we can track antibody fluctuations in the UK population, the better picture we can build around how this virus can be managed long-term.”

The NHS Blood and Transplant Service (NHSBT) has issued a plea for more male covid survivors to donate plasma to its national treatment trial.

Analysis by NHSBT found 43% of male donors had high enough covid anti-bodies for their plasma to be used to help patients hospitalised by the virus, compared to just 29% of women. They described the difference as statistically significant.

Dr Rodgers said: “As a guide, NHSBT is targeting volunteers who have anti-body levels higher than 62 (units per millilitre) to donate plasma to treat people who are seriously ill with coronavirus. This doesn’t mean that if you have lower levels than this you won’t be protected, as we don’t know at what level of anti-bodies protection occurs.

“A number of studies have shown that coronavirus anti-bodies remain in the blood for at least six to eight months for most people. For some, particularly those who had no symptoms, anti-body levels may decline more quickly.

"With the Medichecks test, it will be possible to get a result below 0.8 (U/ml) even if you have had a coronavirus infection in the past. This could be because you only experienced mild or non-existent symptoms. It could also be because your body responded to the virus using different parts of your immune system.

“There is a higher chance of a negative result (below 0.8 U/ml) if the test is taken too soon after becoming infected with coronavirus or being vaccinated, so we recommend waiting at least three weeks after a known infection or vaccination before testing.”

Manufactured by Roche, the Anti-SARS-CoV-2-S coronavirus anti-body test is priced at £69.

Medichecks posts a sample collection kit to customers together with full instructions on how to collect a blood sample in a small vial at home. The sample is then posted to a UKAS accredited laboratory for analysis. The result, accompanied by a doctor’s interpretation, is uploaded to the customer’s online dashboard.

Anonymised data of anti-body levels will be available for sharing with relevant agencies, if required.

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