A NEW coronavirus test will help emergency health staff in Wales get back to work, the health minister has said.

The antibody test will identify if people have recently had Covid-19 and potentially if they have immunity.

This is unlike the current 'antigen' test, which only identifies whether someone has the virus.

Vaughan Gething said the new antibody test would be made available from next week for critical workers such as frontline health and care staff, as well as the most vulnerable people in Wales.

But amid plans to extend testing across Wales, the health minister said a "written agreement" with one company to provide more tests had collapsed.


“The new antibody test will be a massive leap forward in helping us respond to coronavirus," he said. "In the immediate term, it will help our critical workers – especially our frontline NHS and social care staff – return to work and provide life-saving care.

“This new test is vital to give them the confidence and keep them safe as they carry out their work to keep everyone else safe.”

Later, the Welsh Government plans to extend the antibody testing to other critical workers, such as police, fire service and social care workers.

The health minister also announced a new plan for antigen testing, which will see a wider range of suppliers providing coronavirus testing kits to Wales.

The move comes after a firm was unable to to fulfil its agreement to supply its full volume of antigen testing for Wales.

“It’s very disappointing a company with which we had a written agreement to provide tests is not able to honour that agreement," Mr Gething said. "But this plan allows us to continue to increase testing capacity in our hospitals and community, drawing on a four-nation agreement.

“This, together with the introduction of the antibody test, means we will have a much better understanding of the virus in Wales.”

From next week, around 1,100 antigen tests will be available each day in Wales, though the government hopes to raise this to 5,000 per day by mid-April.

An additional 4,000 antigen tests will be available each day in Wales as part of a UK-wide deal involving Thermo Fisher Scientific, Amazon, Boots, Royal Mail, and Randox; which was announced by the UK Government on Friday.

The testing plan also includes investing in developing new tests and in research to understand the virus and how to bring the pandemic to an end.