26 March 2020, Kathmandu
New 15-minute home test kits for coronavirus will be made available to the British public within days, said a Public Health England (PHE) director.
Thousands of tests will be sold in chemists such as Boots or delivered by Amazon to people with symptoms who are self-isolating as soon as next week.
Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the national infection service at PHE, told MPs on the science and technology committee that once the tests are cleared, they will be “distributed to the community”.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said the government bought millions of the tests on Tuesday and is ordering millions more.
The antibody test involves pricking a finger and analysing a drop of blood in a device that looks like a pregnancy test. It will only tell the person if they have had Covid-19, not if they currently have it.
The test will detect the presence of the antibodies IGM, which emerges in the early stages of infection, and IGG, which increases during the body’s response to the virus.
Ms Peacock said the tests would “absolutely” be available within days, rather than weeks or months, when asked by MPs.
She said: “Several million tests have been purchased for use. These are brand new products. We have to be clear they work as they are claiming to do.
“Once they have been tested this week and the bulk of tests arrive, they will be distributed into the community.”
(With Input fron Agencies)