- Home-testing kits which indicate whether you have ever been infected with the coronavirus will soon be rolled out across the UK, Members of Parliament have been told.
- Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, said the group had developed simple finger-prick tests which could soon be available.
- The tests could be available in chemists and online retailers like Amazon once they have been tested by the UK authorities.
- However, the UK government’s chief medical adviser said the testing process could significantly delay their rollout.
- “The one thing worse than no test is a bad test,” the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said.
- If effective the tests could mean that thousands of workers can return to normal life much sooner than expected.
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Simple home-testing kits which indicate whether somebody has ever been infected with the coronavirus could soon be available to order in the UK, Members of Parliament have been told.
Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, told the UK parliament on Wednesday that the group had developed finger-prick tests which establish whether a person has ever been infected with the virus.
Once rolled out, the public will be able to buy the tests via services like Amazon and in high-street pharmacists, Peacock said. Users will carry out the pin-prick test, then send the sample to a laboratory.
She said it would initially allow key workers, particularly NHS staff, to return to work after their illness, as they would have developed immunity to the virus, but confirmed they would be available to the wider population soon afterwards.
Peacock said that the tests were currently being evaluated to confirm whether they worked, which she said would happen by the end of the week, after which “several million” would be rolled out across the country.
“Once we are assured that they do work, they will be rolled out into the community,” Peacock told the Health & Science select committee on Wednesday.
“Testing the test is a small matter, and I anticipate that it will be done by the end of this week.
“In the near future people will be able to order a test that they can test themselves, or go to Boots, or somewhere similar to have their finger prick test done.”
Asked if she meant the tests would be ready for roll-out within days rather than weeks, she said: “Absolutely.”
However, the UK’s own medical advisers downplayed the possibility of a rapid roll-out, saying that they needed to be properly tested first.
The UK government’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty told a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday that full testing would need to be completed on the tests first.
“The one thing worse than no test is a bad test,” Whitty said.
“I do not think, and I want to be clear, that this is something we’ll be ordering from the internet in a matter of weeks.”
“We need to go through the evaluation, then the first critical uses, and then spread it out from that point of view. We need to do that in a systematic way.”