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The government has revealed it will be rolling out 10 million coronavirus antibody tests from next week.
Speaking at today's press briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the tests will help scientists understand if catching Covid-19 makes people immune to it or not.
He also said the tests would be issued in a 'phased way' - starting with 'healthcare staff, patients and residents'.
Hancock continued: "This is an important milestone, and it represents further progress in our national testing programme.
"It's not just about the clinical advances that these tests can bring, although obviously that's important, it's that knowing that you have these antibodies will help us to understand more in the future - if you are at lower risk of catching coronavirus, of dying from coronavirus and of transmitting coronavirus."
Hancock also said the results of the government's antibody surveillance study have shown 17 percent of people in London and five percent of the population in the rest of the country have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, although this data is based on a sample.
He explained: "We're backing efforts to develop our own, home-grown antibody tests through our UK rapid test consortium, and that work is showing some early promise.
"And as you know, we've been looking at a whole series of commercial antibody tests.
"Many of these early tests were not reliable enough for clinical use, but we have made some available at small scale, and we now have the results of our antibody surveillance study.
"This has told us that around 17 percent of people in London, and around five percent of people or higher around the rest of the country have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.
"This was based on a sample, but for the public at large to know whether or not they've had coronavirus, we need antibody tests at larger scale."
Earlier in the briefing, Hancock also announced the government will be providing £4.2 million to mental health charities.
Praising the work of mental health charities - which he said are 'offering some brilliant support' throughout the pandemic - Hancock revealed: "Today we are providing a further £4.2 million pounds, so organisations like the Samaritans and YoungMinds and Mental Health UK can keep doing what they do best."
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