THE UK reached its 200,000 testing capacity target at the end of last month, but Boris Johnson has been warned he must increase the production of rapid result antibody tests in order to safely take the country out of lockdown.
Testing capacity is one of the key pillars to the Governments strategy and one company, MEDsan UK has developed a test which they state is 97.1 accurate and can give a result in just 10 minutes. On Saturday, the UK registered 205,634 tests which were either carried out or sent – as of Monday June 3 the daily number stood at 171,829. Within that number, the UK has the capacity to carry out 40,000 antibody tests a day but those are currently only on offer to health and care staff.
The antibody test shows whether someone has had the virus previously and if they have the adequate antibodies – although it has not been determined whether this illustrates future immunity to COVID-19.
These differ from the more widespread swab test which shows if someone is currently infected with the virus.
In order to combat the virus, Dr Mark Vanderpump medical advisor at MEDsan UK and Henning von Spreckelsen care sector specialist and business advisor stated the Government must look to increasing the ability to produce rapid home antibody tests.
Speaking to Express.co.uk they stated the rapid antibody home test kit is “the only game in town” to get companies back to work and restart the UK economy.
Mr von Spreckelsen said: “We would advocate that the Government should be using rapid antibody test kits.
“A rapid antibody test is the only game in town for solving this problem.
“A rapid testing approach done by the person at their own home, allowing them to then make an evaluation relatively simply, or ring a doctor or ring NHS 111 once they’ve got the result is the way forward.”
Costing an average of £30, the kit represents a much quicker alternative to the laboratory test which could take up to 48 hours to provide results.
In contrast to rapid result home test kits which provide an instant result, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has asked providers of laboratory-based antibody test kits to suspend the production.
The reason being that home collection of the virus had not been properly assessed and validated.
With the Government keen to restart the economy, Mr Vanderpump also stated the rapid home test could be key in protecting the workforce and buying crucial time before a vaccine is formulated.
He said: “The point is at the moment, you probably just have to get started somewhere.
Because it’s a bit like sort of waiting for the vaccine in 18 months by the time of trials approved, the vaccine works weve still got to manage the next 18 months.
“At some stage, we need to take the pragmatic approach which has to be we’ve got to do something to get on with it.”
Although the Government stated the target had been reached at the end of May, David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, described the official numbers as far from complete.
Mr Norgrove wrote: “The testing statistics still fall well short of the UKSAs expectations.
“It is not surprising that, given their inadequacy, data on testing are so widely criticised and often mistrusted.”
In response, the Health Secretary did state the Government will work to improve the numbers.