UK has bought 3.5 million coronavirus antibody tests - health minister

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State of Health Matt Hancock arrives for a meeting to address the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak, at Downing Street in London

(This March 24 story, is refiled to fix typo in headline)

LONDON (Reuters) - British health minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday the government had bought 3.5 million antibody coronavirus tests so that people who suspect they have had the virus would be able to check for sure.

"We've now bought 3.5 million antibody tests that will allow people to see whether they have had the virus and are immune to it and then can get back to work," Hancock said at a news conference.

"We expect people not to be able to catch it, except in very exceptional circumstances, for a second time."

National Medical Director of NHS England, Stephen Powis, also said Britain had recruited its first person into a clinical drug trial.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft, Writing by Kylie MacLellan; editing by William James)