Germany will give 100,00 people coronavirus antibody tests in the coming weeks in order to get the populace back into work and out of the current lockdown. The progressive move comes in stark contrast to the UK which has yet to approve any antibody test.
The mass study in Germany will allow officials to determine who has already caught the virus and whether they are now immune.
Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, last night urged Downing Street to follow in Germany’s footsteps in order to gain the upper hand in the face of the outbreak.
Mr Ashworth said: “Germany appears to be leading the way in the testing and we have much to learn from their approach.”
Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England’s (PHE) medical director professor, said the 17.5million antibody tests the government had ordered were still being evaluated.
Ministers were further admonished over a lack of swab testing within the UK.
Germany, meanwhile, is currently carrying out around 100,000 PCR tests each day.
These tests are throat swabs that detect active infections, rather than existing historic one spotted by finger-prick antibody tests.
The rate of such tests in the UK is some ten times lower.
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Experts have blamed this on a lack of “organisation” rather than a shortage of facilities.
Yet, according cabinet minister Michael Gove, the absence of testing is the direct result of a global shortage of chemicals needed to test patients.
In addition to testing patients, concerns have also been raised over the strain that coronavirus is having on the NHS.
Around a quarter of NHS doctors are thought to be off work after suffering from symptoms associated with the virus, or being in self-isolation, according to the Royal College of Physicians.
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The state of emergency departments, especially in the UK’s two biggest cities, are said to have been seriously affected.
Professor Andrew Goddard told Sky News: “This is really impacting a lot in emergency departments and London is in a much worse position than elsewhere at the moment, but it will come to other places.”
“Birmingham is also struggling,” he said, while hospital wards across England “are going from normal wards to COVID wards very quickly”.
He warned that the situation could either worsen as NHS staff were tested for the illness, or improve as people come out of isolation.
Prof Goddard said: “Of course the worry is we will lose more people to COVID-related illness.”
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that although the number of NHS staff there off sick is relatively low – six percent – it was likely to increase in the coming weeks.
Her warning came after a further 13 people with coronavirus in Scotland died on Monday.
It brought the country’s total to 60.
Although, 108 of these were from a laboratory which was unable to submit its results over the weekend.
This partially explained the surge in positive cases.
However, Ms Sturgeon was quick to warn that the true number of cases was likely far higher than official figures.
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