Newstalk
Newstalk

17.13 25 Mar 2020


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A new COVID-19 testing kit under development in England could be available online in a matter of days.

Public Health England has ordered millions of the kits, which are being evaluated at a lab on Oxford.

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the UKs National Infection Service told a House of Commons committee this morning that they would be made available either through Amazon or at High Street pharmacies like Boots.

It is unclear whether the tests would be available for purchase outside of the UK.

The kits resemble a home pregnancy test and require patients to prick their fingers before placing a drop of blood in the test zone.

Prof Peacock told the Commons Science and Technology Committee via video link that researchers need to fully evaluate the tests to “ensure we understand how they operate.”

She said this would likely be done by the end of the week.

“In the near future, people will be able to order a test so they can test themselves or go to Boots or somewhere similar to have their finger-prick test done,” she said.

Asked if the availability of the test to the public would be a number of days rather than weeks or months, she replied: “Absolutely.”

Patients who have already contracted COVID-19 produce antibodies, which are detected by the test.

The British Government has pointed to evidence suggesting people can’t catch the virus twice in quick succession – meaning that people who test positive for the antibodies and are not showing symptoms could be cleared to return to work.

Professor Peacock said antibody tests are also being ordered across Europe and in South East Asia.

“This is widespread practice. We are not alone in doing this,” she said.

Public Health England will be asking a portion of people to have their test results confirmed by a gold standard" test, to make sure the kits are working properly before they are released.


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