Self-testing at home to find out if anyone has had Covid-19 is an effective way to find out if they are safe to return to work, said a senior health official.
Prof. Yvonne Doyle, NHS England medical director, told the health selection committee that home finger tests will soon be available. “We expect it to arrive within a couple of weeks, but I wouldn’t want to promise it,” he said.
It was “critical to understand what’s going on and allow people to get back to work,” he said. The self test was not new and was well understood by the public, with routine tests available such as the pregnancy test. “The intention is to allow people to do as much as possible. It is by far the most efficient way, if technology supports it, “he said.
On Wednesday, Professor Sharon Peacock of Public Health England told science and technology committee members that a home test to detect antibodies indicating that someone had Covid-19 was evaluated this week in Oxford to make sure it worked. as has been said and would be available next week. Government advisers subsequently warned that the test may not be ready so quickly.
But health secretary Matt Hancock said the government has purchased 3.5 million antibody tests and will buy more.
Governments around the world are looking for better and faster tests to prove whether people have the disease or have had it and healed it.
Singapore developed an antibody test as early as February. American coordinator Covid-19, Dr. Deborah Birx, said that the United States government is interested in this and that private US companies are also developing antibody tests. They include California-based Biomerica, which sells in Europe and the Middle East, and New York-based Chembio Diagnostics, which sells in Brazil.
“Some have been developed now. We are examining those in Singapore,” Birx said on Monday in a meeting with the White House press. “We are very quality oriented. We don’t want false positives.”
British companies and academics have also developed self-test kits for Covid-19 which are expected to be available for purchase in the coming weeks or months.
An inexpensive test is performed by Mologic, a Bedford-based diagnostic test company. Another kit was developed by researchers from three UK universities led by Brunel University.
Mologic produced the first prototypes of an antibody test for Covid-19, based on his experience in developing a rapid test kit for Ebola. Test assessment and validation began this week at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and at St George’s, University of London.
The company said it will take three to four months for the test to be available in the UK and other countries. It will cost £ 1 in the UK and will be as simple to use as a home pregnancy test, but will use saliva or blood instead of urine, with results ready in 10 minutes.
Mologic, which received £ 1 million from the British government to develop the test, will be able to make 8 million kits per year in UK and Senegal facilities. In Senegal it will be sold for less than $ 1.
“These tests could be a turning point for patient diagnosis and follow-up both in hospital and in the community, allowing us to detect cases early and quickly isolate patients and their families, “said Dr Emily Adams , senior lecturer in diagnostics for infectious disease at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
The test kit developed by researchers from Brunel University in London, Lancaster University and the University of Surrey is based on science evaluated in the Philippines to verify the presence of viral infections in chickens.
The battery-powered portable device processes the nasal or throat swabs that are inserted inside it and provides results within 30-45 minutes via a smartphone app. The team contacted regulators from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe for approval and is in talks with 60 manufacturers. It could be publicly available within a few weeks.
The device will be priced at £ 100 and can test six people simultaneously. The test is able to detect the virus in subjects who do not show symptoms because it recognizes the DNA structure of the virus in the samples.