Antibody tests must not lull us into thinking we can stop social distancing, says BMA

by BMA media team Press release from the BMA
Location: UK
Published: Thursday 21 May 2020

In response to the Government announcement of the rollout of 10 million antibody tests from next week, Dr Penelope Toff, member and past chair of the BMA’s public health medicine committee, said:

“These tests will provide useful information on the spread of the virus so far. Taken with other data, including effective contact tracing, testing for active infection and research studies, they will help us assess the scale of the epidemic in the UK.

“However, it’s vital that we are not lulled into thinking that this test means we can stop social distancing or taking other measures to halt the spread of the virus. A test to say you’ve had Covid-19 is not a test to say you’re immune or you won’t get it again. This message must be communicated to the public in the clearest terms from the outset.

“A positive test for health and social care and other frontline workers must not lead to reduced protective measures, such as PPE, relaxed social distancing or self-isolation, nor should decisions around redeployment or return to frontline work be based on an antibody test result.

“Crucially, any further easing of lockdown and protective measures must be done on the basis of evidence of maintained low rates of community infection and maintained low numbers of those with severe illness and deaths from Covid-19.”



Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.