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With extensive Covid-19 antibody testing now taking place for NHS staff and some patients and Health & Social Care workers across Cheshire and Merseyside, Sefton residents are being reminded there is no evidence that a positive test result provides any proof of long-term immunity to the virus.

Antibody testing is being carried out because at this stage, it can improve understanding about the spread of the virus and help scientists learn about how the virus has spread. It is not being used to indicate to those who have had the virus that they will develop long-lasting immunity that would prevent them from getting the virus again.

This reminder comes after reports that private companies offering antibody tests for as much as £30 per person have been targeting schools and other organisations.

Margaret Jones, Interim Director of Public Health for Sefton, said: “The message for residents, business and other organisations is that there is currently no clinical or medical benefit to having an antibody test and that we would not encourage anyone to seek out, or agree to, a private test.

“The only validated way to have an antibody test is to go through an NHS service, which is currently prioritising some patients, NHS and key workers in health & social care. However, this still only shows whether people have had the virus, not if they are immune and they should certainly not be seen as providing any kind of ‘immunity passport’.

“In fact, the Government has made clear that anyone testing positive will still be required to comply with social distancing measures and other guidelines such as wearing face coverings on public transport.

“The best advice is to only have an antibody test if you are asked to do so by your employer, GP or when in an NHS setting like a hospital. If you are asked to be tested, please ensure that is through official NHS Test and Trace channels.”