Covid-19 antibodies checks for NHS and care workers are being rolled out with out “sufficient evaluation”, consultants warn.
The checks may place an pointless burden on the NHS, the 14 senior teachers say in a letter in the BMJ,
Final month, the federal government mentioned it had purchased 10 million antibodies checks and requested NHS trusts and care houses to make them out there to workers in England.
Officers say the blood checks – to see if somebody has had the virus – will play an “more and more essential function”.
Some sufferers and other people having routine blood checks in England are being supplied them too.
What are antibodies checks?
They usually present if somebody – who has beforehand been unwell with a bug – has developed safety in opposition to future bouts of the sickness.
However how the immune system reacts to the Covid-19 virus stays unsure.
With the present laboratory checks, NHS England says, a constructive end result reveals an individual has had coronavirus.
However crucially, it doesn’t show they’ve immunity in opposition to future assaults or whether or not they may transmit the virus to others.
However, well being officers say gathering the outcomes of those checks will assist them perceive extra in regards to the unfold of illness.
What are the issues?
The group of scientists say as a constructive result’s unable to show immunity, the checks provide “no profit” to hospitals and care workers.
The outcomes don’t change what private protecting gear workers should put on, for instance.
The teachers additionally recommend there’s little knowledge on how properly the take a look at works for folks at highest danger – together with folks belonging to some ethnic minorities and older sufferers.
As an alternative, they name for different fastidiously designed methods to assist monitor the unfold of the virus.
What do different consultants assume?
Prof Martin Hibberd, of the London College of Hygiene and Tropical Drugs, described the checks as an essential part of the public-health response.
He added: “If used efficiently, the info generated can be essential surveillance info for understanding the effectiveness of management measures put in place.”
In the meantime Dr Tom Wingfield, on the Liverpool College of Tropical Drugs, mentioned he shared the issues raised within the teachers’ letter.
He added: “We do not but have ample proof on accuracy and interpretation of antibody checks.”
A Public Well being England official mentioned all checks within the programme had been “extensively validated by the producers and have acquired CE marks” indicating compliance with EU security requirements.
Public Well being England has launched a examine – utilizing antibodies and different checks – to see if healthcare employees develop immunity.
What about different elements of the UK?
Wales is at the moment engaged on its testing insurance policies.
In the meantime, Scotland’s chief medical officer has written to all well being boards to say they need to not provide “on-demand” antibodies testing to NHS workers, care employees or sufferers.