British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Thursday that a small-scale antibody surveillance study has shown that about 17% of people in London and 5% in the rest of the country have had COVID-19.
Speaking at his usual remote COVID-19 news briefing in London, Hancock said the study came out of Britain’s government-funded effort to develop antibody tests, which he said were not reliable enough for clinical use. He said that for the public at large to know whether they have had the coronavirus, they needed antibody tests at a larger scale.
To that end, Hancock announced that Britain had signed contracts with pharmaceutical company Roche and Abbott to supply more than 10 million antibody tests. He said they would begin rolling out the tests in phases beginning next week, starting with health workers, and then patients.
Hancock also reported a 14% decrease in COVID-19 patients being treated in hospitals since last week. He said that over 3 million people had been tested for the virus, of which 250,908 tested positive.
The COVID-19 death toll in Britain stands at 36,042, a rise of 338 since Wednesday.