I had a letter recently, asking me to take part in a study into Covid-19; I had been selected randomly. I accepted at once, and a test kit arrived on Saturday.
The letter with the test kit said:
“Thank you for registering to take part in the in-home coronavirus antibody testing research study, which is being conducted by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, an independant research organisation, on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
“This study will help the government understand how many people in England may have already been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and to help develop its approach to COVID-19 antibody testing.”
On Tuesday I followed the instructions and did the test. To find out what happened, read on…
I laid out the test kit as shown in the instruction booklet.
Back row: A plaster and a cotton wool ball, my darkroom timer; this is a timed test.
Middle row: A pipette (I didn’t use it) and a bottle of buffer solution, the testing stick.
Front row: Two one shot lancets, and an alcohol wipe.
I added a couple of drops of buffer solution to the round well in the testing stick. I now had to wait for at least ten, but for no more than, fifteen minutes. But the battery in my darkroom timer had failed me. Instead, I used my wall clock.
While we are waiting for the testing stick to do its thing, don't forget that this is the 14th post in the Distance Project. The project covers all sorts of aspects of how life has changed under the lockdown, not just for me but for many different people. All the posts in this project, including those yet to come, are being collected together here.
While I waited, I realised that now I didn’t need any more blood, it was happily dripping out of my finger. I held the cotton wool ball to the spot, knowing that after about a minutes the blood would stop.
It’s worked; the blue line next to ‘C’ in the slot has turned red. That's a shadow to the right of the red line. If there had been a line, however faint, against ‘G’, or both ‘G’ and ‘M’, the longer lasting IgG type antibodies would have been detected. If there had been a line of any sort against ‘M’, it would have found the IgM antibodies, which do not stay in the body too long.
So the test detected no antibodies in my blood sample. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed. But as the letter said,
“Please be aware that the antibody test is not 100% accurate at an individual level.
"This research will allow us to estimate how many people in England may have already been infected, but it is not accurate enough to confirm whether or not an individual has definitely had COVID-19.
"Whatever your test result, it is important to follow the current Government advice around social distancing."