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June 23, 2020

Scotland’s chief clinician advises against on-demand antibody testing

By Chloe Kent

Scotland’s acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith has advised against the on-demand provision of Covid-19 antibody testing to NHS staff, care workers or patients. This is due to insufficient evidence that people with Covid-19 antibodies are protected from a second infection.

While he has encouraged the continued use of the tests for surveillance purposes to improve understanding of the virus, he has stressed that the only clinically safe option is to assume no meaningful immunity from a positive result until evidence shows otherwise.

Smith said: “Until such evidence exists the main public health benefits are for research purposes or in the clinical management of patients. The World Health Organization and SAGE have warned there are potentially negative impacts on public health if individuals assume immunity from a positive result and adapt their behaviour in a way which could increase the risk of continued transmission.

“On this basis, advice to health boards is not to offer on-demand antibody testing.”

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