Thousands of adults a day will have free access to testing thanks to a new national surveillance program launched by the UK Health Security Agency next week.
From Tuesday, August 24, anyone over the age of 18 will be able to choose to participate when booking a PCR test through NHS Test and Trace.
Up to 8,000 people who test positive will then be sent two finger-prick antibody tests to take home and send back for analysis.
The agency will monitor antibody levels to help estimate the proportion of those who contracted Covid-19 despite developing antibodies from a vaccine or a previous infection.
The initiative could also provide insight into any groups of people who do not develop an immune response.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our new national antibody test will be quick and easy to participate, and in doing so, you will help strengthen our understanding of Covid-19 as we cautiously return to a more normal life.
“I am proud to see all parts of the UK unite around this new initiative and work together to arm us with even more valuable information on how Covid-19 vaccines are protecting people from top to bottom in the world. UK.
“I urge everyone across the UK to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Green light for Moderna Covid vaccine for 12 to 17 year olds in the United Kingdom
Anyone participating should take their first antibody test as soon as possible after receiving a positive PCR result, before their body has had time to generate a detectable antibody response to the last infection.
The first test will determine the level of antibodies a person had before their current infection.
The second test should be done after 28 days and will measure the antibodies generated in response to the new infection.
Comparing the results will show how much vaccinated individuals boost their immunity when infected and how this can vary between different variants.
A positive test for antibodies does not mean a person is immune to Covid-19 and people should continue to follow the rules, get tested if they have symptoms and self-isolate if they are positive or are a contact of a positive case and have not received the two doses of vaccine, to prevent the virus from spreading.