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Why I had a private Corona Virus antibody test

Last month I paid for a private Corona Virus antibody test, which is now available from Winchester GP.

Before you say it’s not right, it’s something only the privileged can access and all tests should be sent to the NHS, let me give you a scenario.

At the end of February I was in Intensive Care for a week at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, struggling to breathe with suspected Corona Virus.

I was later diagnosed as having Pneumonia. The Corona Virus test I received in hospital was at its earliest stage. I wasn’t tested for the Corona antibody which only shows up at least 21 days after you have had the virus.

Like a lot of people, I wasn’t sure if perhaps, after all, I had had Corona Virus. And, like a lot of people, I wanted to do my bit to help on the front line if I had any level of immunity.

So I took the test, at my expense, and posted a phial of blood from a finger prick kit to a laboratory. The lab in question, Nationwide Pathology, is an NHS-approved coronavirus testing lab, and has also recently been contracted to provide 1,500 of these antibody tests per day for the Government.

The scientific community is very much in the learning stages as to how immunity works for this particular virus so there is so absolute certainty for any test, but my result came back via email a few days later as negative. It indicated that I haven’t had the virus. I was just very unlucky to have the same symptoms. I’m continuing to minimise risk and stay at home as much as possible.

My hope is that the test I paid for will save the NHS money down the line, if and when antibody testing is more widely adopted as part of finding a way to live with this virus around and amongst us for the foreseeable future. The data from private testing is submitted to local health authorities, which helps the NHS’ collective information-gathering.

Could Winchester GP be offering tests for free? Virus testing is a multi-step process conducted in specialist laboratory facilities by highly-skilled pathologists. As a small business, Winchester GP simply couldn’t absorb the associated costs, but it has ensured its prices for testing are as low as possible.

Yes, I am privileged that I can afford to pay for a private test. But like a lot of people, I wanted to know whether I had already beaten the virus once, and would feel more confident in offering help to others.

Liz Kavanagh

The Corona Virus antibody test costs £120. A test to diagnose the active virus is also available for £305.

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