Antibody testing will expose the folly of lockdown

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The announcement that a reliable antibody test has now been approved, and is set to be rolled out initially to NHS and care home staff from this week is good news. Granted, the detection of an antibody by this test does not mean that the antibody is actually protective against future virus infections, nor that it is a neutralising antibody able to kill the virus. It may just be a surrogate marker of anti-viral activity by some other mechanism.

These new antibody kits which have now been passed as reliable, mean that old stored blood samples can be tested for Covid-19; patients who suspect that they have previously had coronavirus can also be tested anew to see if the specific antibodies are present. Indeed, doctors in France have already discovered a patient who had Covid-19 in their system as early as December 2019, after they tested samples taken in December and January from 24 patients who had all previously tested negative for the flu – thus confirming that COVID-19 was present in Europe long before the late January date used to model the outbreak in the UK.

I  have had many people list “classic symptoms” of COVID-19 infections in the UK in December and early January and to confirm that these people were actually infected by COVID-19 will be extremely important. Particularly given that the disastrous modelling and advice from Sage assumes that there was no Covid-19 in the country until the end of January.  They have used an antiquated model focusing on the flu as the likely vector while apparently blissfully unaware of the fact that these models are dependent on input: garbage in, garbage out.

This antibody test may yet helpfully show that Ferguson and his ill-informed colleagues got it spectacularly wrong, that we should have lessened the lockdown several weeks ago (if it was ever needed). And it may yet lend further evidence to the argument that the economy has been needlessly destroyed by a diet of arrogance, hubris and complacency. Widespread rollout of antibody testing should be Britain’s number one priority now, because it can help get our severely damaged economy going; anyone who tests positive should be back at work, as should most people under 50 as long as they do not have a severe underlying disorder, which given the available figures, ought to include obesity.

Unfortunately, we have a Sage committee advising a government that is devoid of any scientific expertise, on speculative concepts such as the R number and the need for everyone to stay indoors, even though the evidence strongly suggests that people are less likely to catch Covid-19 outside. 

We also have a PM scheduling telephone calls with Bill Gates to discuss vaccine efforts, even though we clearly cannot rely on a vaccine as a solution. In a major setback last week, a frontrunner vaccine being developed by Oxford University was only partially effective on monkeys.  I was at the big AIDS meeting 36 years ago when such a vaccine was promised in 18 months. Yet another vaccine for HIV failed this year. I am unable to find a model for MERS , SARS or similar where a vaccine has been effective. We need a sensible plan B.

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