Ground-breaking testing for Covid-19 antibody is set to start at a Lancashire hospital within the next two weeks.

At the beginning of April, the pathology team at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals set up what is known as a PCR test on swabs taken from people with symptoms of Covid-19 to see whether or not they actually have the virus.

As a result of the test's success, the team has now been asked to set up a ground-breaking Covid-19 antibody testing facility at Royal Preston Hospital.

The new antibody test will tell pathologists whether or not a person has had the disease, and give them an understanding of how many of the population have actually been infected, in order to assist in the nationwide track and trace initiative.

The test will be performed in the clinical biochemistry laboratory at the Royal Preston Hospital, using the Roche Covid-19 antibody test.

Dr David Orr, clinical director of pathology and consultant microbiologist said: "This news is most welcome and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals is now at the forefront of measuring both the active disease using the PCR swab test and the antibody test.

"Having both of these tests available will help us in our fight to beat Covid-19."

Eventually, many labs in the country with Roche equipment will use the test, however, the lab at Preston is only one of four laboratories that have been initially chosen, mainly because it's one of the most highly advanced automated clinical biochemistry laboratories in England, supported by state of the art informatics and operated by highly skilled scientists.

The testing will require the collaboration and teamwork of many departments within Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, working together to carry out the test, process the samples, analyse the findings, collate the results and report on the data.

Consultant clinical biochemist at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, Dr Martin Myers, said: "I am delighted that the clinical biochemistry department has been chosen to be in Phase One for antibody testing in England.

"Our advanced automation will allow us to perform thousands of tests a day.

"The team work between the clinical biochemists and microbiologists will have a major impact in our fight against this wretched disease and once we have carried out some quality checks, it is hoped that we will start to prove the service within two weeks."