Britain orders 10M coronavirus antibody tests

Britain to buy 10 million antibody tests from Roche and Abbott

Britain on Thursday announced it had signed deals to buy more than 10 million coronavirus antibody tests from pharmaceutical firms Roche and Abbott for distribution to frontline healthcare workers.

Part of that process has included sample antibody testing in different regions of the United Kingdom to produce an estimate of the number of people who have contracted the virus.

However, having antibodies does not automatically mean a person will not pass the virus onto somebody else.

That same testing sample found that approximately 5 percent of the wider United Kingdom population have antibodies, though Hancock stressed that more testing is required to paint a more accurate picture.

Another use of such tests would be to better learn whether exposure to coronavirus and presence of antibodies gives people immunity from catching it again, and if so for how long.

But, he said the insight they provide is crucial to understanding how people's bodies react to coronavirus and how it is spreading across the country.

"These tell you if you have had the virus, and have developed antibodies in response that might help you to fight the virus in future", he said. This is based on a sample.

'If it works, we'll roll it out as soon as we can, ' he said.

Hancock also announced a trial of a rapid 20-minute test to tell people if they now have COVID-19 following criticisms that people have been waiting days or weeks for test results.

The test has proved effective in early trials and will now be trialed more rigorously on greater numbers of people in the hope it could be rolled out across the rest of the country.

Up to 4,000 people of different ages and backgrounds will take part in the six-week pilot.

It comes as the PM scrapped the fees to use the NHS for overseas health service staff and care workers.

Mr Hancock said the new swab test will be trialled in Hampshire, southern England.

For me, getting hold of a test was seamless but when I returned to the Superdrug site a day later, this message appeared: "Due to the high demand of orders, this service is now not available".

'This is a victory for common decency and the right thing to do.

The decision came a day after another U-turn when the Government extended a scheme offering indefinite leave to remain to the families of all NHS staff who die as a result of contracting coronavirus.

New York University researchers also said last week that the Abbott test could be missing a third to almost half of positive cases.

Professor John Newton, of Public Health England, said there could be advantages in doing the contact tracing process without the app initially.

People that are showing symptoms of the virus should not take the test for at least two weeks for it to be accurate, Superdrug said.

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