A new COVID-19 antibody test is “100% accurate”, according to England’s public health body.

Public Health England said the new test – devised by Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche – had now been assessed and approved.

The blood test determines, via the presence of antibodies, whether a person has already had the new coronavirus.

The antibodies are a reaction by the immune system to an infection.

However, there is no guarantee at this stage that their presence excludes the possibility of re-infection.

Health officials had not considered the previously-available testing options to be reliable; they reportedly gave a number of false positives and false negatives. The UK government was said to have spent £16 million (€18m) on these unreliable methods.

Meanwhile, preliminary results from a nationwide antibody study in Spain suggests that only about 5 per cent of the Spanish population have contracted COVID-19

The study, carried out by the Carlos III Institute for Health and the National Statistics Institute, began late last month and aimed to test 90,000 people in 36,000 different households.

The fact that only 5% were found to have antibodies present in their blood samples means the country is far from the point that it might seriously consider widescale de-escalation of the lockdown restrictions.

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