Health workers and members of the public will soon be able to receive coronavirus home testing kits from shops like Amazon or Boots.
The news emerged when Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England (PHE), addressed Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee.
Prof. Peacock told MPs that “3.5 million finger prick blood tests had been bought” and would be available “by next week”, according to news in the Guardian.
It follows Tuesday’s daily national coronavirus update, when Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the UK government had bought 3.5 million tests and was ordering “millions more”. The Health Secretary had not mentioned how quickly the tests would be available.
The new home coronavirus testing kit resembles a pregnancy test. Taking just 15 minutes to work, it involves pricking the finger to produce a drop of blood, which is then analysed by the device.
A batch of the home testing kits will first be validated in laboratories in Oxford to ensure they work as well as scientists require. These will then be made available freely to healthcare and other key workers, and also sold to the general public via retail outlets.
Those who test positive will have antibodies and therefore immunity to the virus, allowing doctors, nurses and other key workers to go back to work with confidence knowing they are no longer a risk to others.
The UK is currently lagging behind with its coronavirus testing, contrary to advice given by the World Health Organisation. The government says it is down to a lack of kits, which has restricted testing to just 6,000 people a day. The new kits should increase daily tests to 50,000.
“Thousands of 15-minute home tests for coronavirus will be delivered by Amazon to people self-isolating with symptoms or will go on sale on the high street within days.”
This could be a game changer. A huge well done to Public Health England.https://t.co/MVYlmH5NZo
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) March 25, 2020
Tottenham MP David Lammy welcomed the news. Writing on his social media pages, he said: “’Thousands of 15-minute home tests for coronavirus will be delivered by Amazon to people self-isolating with symptoms or will go on sale on the high street within days.”
“This could be a game changer. A huge well done to Public Health England.”