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Highland capital lab praised for 'vital contribution' to coronavirus antibody testing work

By Philip Murray

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Maree Todd MSP.
Maree Todd MSP.

A MEDICAL lab in Inverness has been praised by a Ross-shire based Highland MSP for its ‘vital contribution’ to crucial antibody testing work following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Antibody tests are currently used in Scotland for surveillance purposes and can provide population-level information on the prevalence of Covid-19.

Public Health Scotland recently published data from their surveillance programme to estimate the proportion of people who have antibodies to coronavirus.

The results of the study estimated 4.3 per cent of Scotland’s population have antibodies to the virus.

An antibody test also has the ability to detect asymptomatic and mild infections.

The study, which began on April 20, involved six health boards across Scotland, including NHS Highland. All test samples taken were anonymised and then sent to the Scottish Microbiology Reference Laboratory in Inverness for testing.

And Highlands & Islands MSP Maree Todd, who is a pharmacist by profession, was full of praise for its vital lead role. She said: “The team at the Scottish Microbiology Reference Laboratory in Inverness are making an absolutely vital contribution to our national efforts in tackling this virus.

“Gathering and interpreting data and monitoring change is a key component of good surveillance, and antibody testing plays an important role in this.

“The information provided by the pilot study has been crucial to our understanding of coronavirus. This is demonstrated in the data recently published by Public Health Scotland where the body has been able to provide an estimation on the proportion of people who have antibodies to coronavirus in Scotland.

“This really is pioneering work and it’s fantastic to see the Highlands leading the way on this.

“It’s important we recognise and appreciate our key workers ‘behind the scenes’, who continue to work tirelessly to better understand the virus. Of course, the ultimate goal is to find a vaccine, but studies on antibody tests, and ways of treating COVID-19 patients, for example, are also vital.”

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