May 4, 2020 / 5:03 PM / a month ago

Most COVID-19 patients get antibodies but immunity unclear - UK official

FILE PHOTO: Scientist Linqi Zhang shows a tube with a solution containing COVID-19 antibodies in his lab where he works on research into novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) antibodies for possible use in a drug at Tsinghua University's Research Center for Public Health in Beijing, China, March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Studies in Britain show that most people who have had COVID-19 develop antibodies, England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said on Monday, but it was too early to say whether this gave them immunity.

“The overwhelming majority of people so far called back who’ve had definite COVID-19 infection have got antibodies in their blood stream,” Van-Tam said at daily news conference.

“By and large the signal is that people get antibodies. The next question is, do those antibodies protect you from further infections. And we just haven’t had this disease around ... for long enough to know the answers to that with any surety.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added that the government was in discussions with Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche over antibody testing.

Reporting by William James and Andy Bruce; writing by Alistair Smout; editing by Estelle Shirbon

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