First Minister pressed on antibody testing for Covid

Nicola Sturgeon has been challenged on her government’s plans for antibody testing.

Speaking in the response to the First Minister’s latest statement on the easing of restrictions, Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston questioned Ms Sturgeon on what antibody testing is being undertaken in Scotland’s care homes and among the general population.

The Conservative MSP highlighted that, while it was well known that over 4,000 people in Scotland had lost their lives to Covid-19 so far, the Scottish Government was not aware of the number of Scots who have actually had the virus.

In her reply, Nicola Sturgeon claimed there was insufficient understanding of what a test result might mean for immunity, although accepted that they were being used for monitoring purposes.

Mr Halcro Johnston said: “We know more than 4,000 people in Scotland have died from Covid-19 and we know that over 2,000 have died in Scotland’s care homes.

"What we don’t know is how many in Scotland have had the virus, and it was clear from Nicola Sturgeon’s response that we still appear to be a long way from having a testing regime that will give us a better idea of that.

“The First Minister seemed to suggest that she felt tests weren’t yet reliable enough, whilst also admitting that the Scottish Government were using them for monitoring purposes.

“I do accept her point that there is some way to go before we have a full picture of what level of immunity have Covid-19 gives someone. But for many who feel they may have had the virus, or for others who might have been exposed to it, there is no doubt that an antibody test to confirm this can provide some reassurance.

“It also would give us a better understanding of the spread of the virus, its prevalence in our communities and the potential susceptibility - and vulnerability - of those communities to further outbreaks.

“My concern is that a programme will eventually be rolled out - or that antibody tests will at least be made more widely available to the public - but that it will be, as too often with the Scottish Government, delayed.

“We are more than three months into this crisis and we need to see some progress on this matter now.”