Thousands of home coronavirus test kits are to be made available within days in the UK.
Public Health England (PHE) director Sharon Peacock has announced the kits, which take 15 minutes to complete, 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.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the UK government bought millions of the tests on Tuesday and is ordering millions more.
Available within days
The antibody test involves pricking a finger and analysing a drop of blood in a device that looks like a pregnancy test.
It will tell the person using it is they have, or had, Covid-19 and enable them to act accordingly.
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 ben purchased for use. These are brand new products. We have to be clear they work as they are claimed to do.
“Once they have been tested this week and the bulk of tests arrive, they will be distributed into the community.”
“Test, test, test”
Key workers, including NHS doctors and nurses, will be able to make quicker decisions about self-isolating or returning to work on the frontlines of the pandemic with the new game-changing test kit.
Currently, only patients admitted to hospital are being routinely tested for Covid-19. Between 5,000 to 6,000 people are being tested a day, but the UK government plans to increase this to 25,000 tests a day within four weeks.
The new antibody tests could help the UK achieve what the World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged governments to do, which is to “test, test, test”.