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US News Covid-19 antibody test ‘at least a month away’

16:45  06 april  2020
16:45  06 april  2020 Source:   msn.com

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To do an antibody test , you'd need to have blood drawn. But coronavirus tests in the U.S To collect a sample for a diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID - 19 disease To determine if someone has recovered from the coronavirus, at least two different nasal swabs taken at

Laboratory testing for the respiratory coronavirus disease 2019 ( COVID - 19 ) and the associated SARS-CoV-2 virus includes methods that detect the presence of virus and those that detect antibodies

Professor Sir John Bell said the search was on for a test that was sensitive and specific enough that it could be taken at home (Ben Birchall/PA) © Ben Birchall Professor Sir John Bell said the search was on for a test that was sensitive and specific enough that it could be taken at home (Ben Birchall/PA)

A mass antibody test is at least a month away, a leading Government scientific adviser has said.

Professor Sir John Bell, from Oxford University, who advises the Government on life sciences, said the search was on for an antibody test that would prove effective, but those tested so far had failed.

Oxford is involved in scrutinising antibody tests that can tell people whether they have had the virus and can get back to normal life – one of the key routes out of the UK’s current lockdown.

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In a blog on the university website under the header “What next?”, Prof Bell said: “We will of course continue to look for a test that meets the criteria of an acceptable test.”

MANCHESTER,  - APRIL 04: A nurse takes a swab at a Covid-19 Drive-Through testing station at Manchester Airport on April 04, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 30,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) © Getty MANCHESTER, - APRIL 04: A nurse takes a swab at a Covid-19 Drive-Through testing station at Manchester Airport on April 04, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 30,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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He said the search was on for a test that was sensitive and specific enough that it could be taken at home.

“That should be achievable, and the Government will be working with suppliers both new and old to try and deliver this result so we can scale up antibody testing for the British public,” he said.

“This will take at least a month.”

Prof Bell said “large-scale testing” was a Government strategy “which will be crucial for getting us back to our normal lives in the coming months”.

He explained that long-term protection to Covid-19 comes from antibodies – “small proteins produced by your immune system that attack the virus and neutralise it”.

Prof Bell added: “These antibodies emerge during an infection and peak 28 days after the infection. They then remain for months afterwards continuing to provide protection, and the cells that produce them also are available to fight off the infection if it returns.”

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A COVID - 19 testing row erupted this week after Germany scaled up its testing capability to 93,000 per day while the UK was still managing fewer than 10,000. Oxford Biosystems and Regenerus Laboratories in Surrey are also known to make antibody tests against COVID - 19 .

But he warned that creating home test kits for mass use is “not easy”, adding there were currently 100 or more antibody tests that each had to go through validation.

A demonstration at SureScreen Diagnostics, based in Derby, of a test they have manufactured which claims to be 98% accurate in determining if a person is infected with coronavirus, costs £6 and can be used in 10 minutes. (Photo by Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images) © Getty A demonstration at SureScreen Diagnostics, based in Derby, of a test they have manufactured which claims to be 98% accurate in determining if a person is infected with coronavirus, costs £6 and can be used in 10 minutes. (Photo by Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images)

Prof Bell said it had taken some time to get the right validation tools in place but said “the UK is now uniquely positioned to evaluate and find the optimal test for this disease”.

He added: “We clearly want to avoid telling people they are immune when they are not, and we want all people who are immune to know accurately so they can get back to work.

“Sadly, the tests we have looked at to date have not performed well. We see many false negatives (tests where no antibody is detected despite the fact we know it is there) and we also see false positives.

“None of the tests we have validated would meet the criteria for a good test as agreed with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This is not a good result for test suppliers or for us.”

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He said the Spanish government had also returned test kits that were not working, “and the Germans who are developing their own sensitive kits believe they are three months away from getting these available and validated”.

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Downing Street said on Monday it will seek refunds from companies that cannot improve the failed antibody tests ordered by the Government.

“No test so far has proved to be good enough to use,” the PM’s official spokesman said.

“We continue to work with the testing companies, we’re in a constant dialogue with them and we give feedback to them when their products fail to meet the required standards.

“If the tests don’t work then the orders that we placed will be cancelled and wherever possible we will recover the costs.”

Click or tap here for the latest travel advice for people travelling back to the UK from affected areas, including whether to self-isolate. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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