'Game changer' coronavirus tests could be available in days

'Game changer' coronavirus tests could be available in days
By: Technology Posted On: March 25, 2020 View: 15

'Game changer' coronavirus tests could be available in days

Millions of new coronavirus testing kits could be ready to order on Amazon in days, rather than weeks or months, according to Public Health England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously spoken of a simple test for coronavirus as a potential "total game changer" in the battle against COVID-19.

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, revealed on Wednesday that millions of such a test have been ordered and could be used "in the near future".

They would show whether an individual had antibodies for COVID-19 which, if they did, would mean they could return to work if they were not showing symptoms.

Evidence suggests people cannot catch coronavirus twice in quick succession, if they have already been infected and recovered, the government has said.

The tests, which look similar to pregnancy tests, could be ordered on Amazon or taken at high street branches such as Boots, Prof Peacock said.

The World Health Organisation has urged countries to step up testing in the global fight against coronavirus.

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Appearing before the House of Commons science and technology committee via video link, Prof Peacock said the new tests were "rapidly" being evaluated at a laboratory in Oxford with 3.5 million having already been ordered.

"Further millions are being ordered today," Prof Peacock told MPs.

"But we do need to ensure we understand how they operate, because these are brand new tests."

Prof Peacock revealed the evaluation of the tests would likely be done by the end of this week.

She added: "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."

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

Prof. Peacock told the committee there are "two different models", with one possible model being a test that is ordered via Amazon and performed at home before being sent back to see whether someone tests positive or negative for coronavirus.

Another "might require you to go somewhere like Boots because it requires a blood prick", she added.

Explaining further how the tests would work, she continued: "It looks like a pregnancy test. Except that you're putting a finger with a spot of blood on there.

"You prick your finger like a diabetic would, then get a drop of blood and put it on a filter paper and then run some liquid to make that run into the test zone."

Public Health England will be asking some people to have a second blood test, checked with a "gold standard" test, to make sure the kits are working properly, Prof Peacock said.

The tests "can see if you have antibodies, in which case you know you had the infection", she added.

"This is not just for key workers, its for the general population. Over time its expected the proportion of the population will be positive.

"And that will allow them to get back to work."

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