The government has announced that the British will be able to carry out antibody tests against coronaviruses at home in a few days with finger prick kits which will be available on Amazon and Boots.
But what are these tests – and do they work?
What is an antibody test?
An antibody test can detect whether a person has had the coronavirus before and has since recovered. The test, done by a device that pricks your finger for blood, works by testing your blood for anti-coronavirus antibodies to see if they have already beaten the virus and acquired some immunity against it. He can do it in about 15 minutes.
The coronavirus test that the government is currently using can only tell if someone has the virus, not if they got it and have recovered. These swab tests also take much longer to get a result.
The antibody test is also called a “serological test”.
What is an antigen test?
An antigen test detects the presence (or absence) of an antigen, not an antibody. An antigen is a structure within a virus that triggers the immune system’s response to fight infection. It can be detected in the blood before making antibodies.
An antigen test is effective because it can take the immune system a few days to build enough antibodies to be detected in a test; however, antigens can be detected almost immediately after infection. So, in theory, the test can tell a lot sooner if someone has the virus.
Antigen tests are used to diagnose HIV, malaria and the flu.
Will NHS staff be tested?
The test will let NHS staff know if they have been infected with the virus – and have recovered – so that they can return to work.
Who can do a coronavirus home test?
In theory, anyone can buy a test from Amazon or Boots. However, the government initially ordered only 3.5 million tests, which will not be enough for the entire British population. These will be targeted at key workers
Can I have a coronavirus test?
Yes. Public Health England said a small number of tests would be tested in the laboratory before being distributed via Amazon and sold in Boots. Assuming that the tests pass the laboratory tests, they will then be available to everyone.
How much will the test cost?
The government has yet to release official information on the cost of a test – although it is clearly in the public interest that it is affordable for all. Tests by SureScreen, a British company, cost £ 6.
Who does the coronavirus test?
Mologic, a Bedfordshire company that produces pregnancy tests, has received £ 1 million from the government to develop the coronavirus test.
SureScreen, a Derby company, created a finger prick test that they say takes 10 minutes to return a result and is 98% accurate. The tests are said to be used by private companies in a number of European countries.
Why are these tests important?
A widely available test that works so quickly would dramatically change the UK’s strategy to fight the virus and change our daily lives.
Staff in the NHS could return to work sooner if they know they have already had the virus.
People who have already had the virus and who are immune could, in theory, return to work and resume a normal life.
The impact of these tests on the economy and public health could be enormous. See how the tests work below.
Do they use these tests in other countries?
The UK is not the only country to have ordered the tests.
Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, said: “The tests are ordered in Europe and elsewhere and purchased in South East Asia. It is a widespread practice. We are not alone in doing this. “
While some countries, such as South Korea and Germany, have managed to test many more people than in other countries, these tests are in most cases much slower swab tests.
Hundreds of thousands to be tested daily by the NHS
The NHS could start testing hundreds of thousands of people a day for Covid-19 in a few weeks, said the medical director of NHS England.
Here is the current test ratio:
Professor Stephen Powis told LBC, the telephone and voice radio station, that the tests are being expanded and that there will be more widespread tests on NHS workers in the coming days.
“We want hundreds of thousands of tests to be intensified over the next few weeks a day,” he said.
The government is under intense pressure to increase testing, especially for front-line NHS staff so that those who are negative can get back to work.
When asked to clarify if he really meant hundreds of thousands of tests a day, Professor Powis said, “This is what we are aiming for. This is what we want to speed up, but remember you that this is a new virus and we are starting from scratch.
“The kits necessary to carry out these tests are being manufactured. We are transporting them to the country, we are accelerating them.
“I’m talking about hundreds of thousands of tests.
“All of this is accelerating and increasing as we speak but, yes, you heard me right, we have to do hundreds of thousands of tests a day, and we will do it in the next few weeks and we we will have tests available to NHS staff in the coming days. “
Figures released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Welfare indicate that Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS are expected to perform up to 25,000 tests per day over the next four weeks.
The capacity will then continue to increase to reach 250,000 tests per day, according to the department.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced earlier this week that an analysis facility has been opened in Milton Keynes.