(TMU) — New 15-minute home coronavirus tests will soon be available over the counter or via home delivery within days in the U.K., according to public health authorities, in a move that could see the country make vast strides toward tampering down fears and restoring some normalcy amid the ongoing pandemic.
The Guardian reports that millions of the test kits could be available as soon as next week, allowing people with symptoms who are self-isolating to find out if they have been infected through a simple device—similar to an OTC pregnancy test—that involves pricking a finger and analyzing a drop of blood for IGM, an antibody which appears in the early stages of infection.
The test will also detect IGG, which increases as the body responds to the novel virus and is indicative of whether someone has had CoViD-19 and thus has some degree of immunity.
The British government has already purchased 3.5 million of the tests and has plans to order millions more.
Prof. Sharon Peacock, director of the national infection service at Public Health England (PHE), told members of parliament on the science and technology committee that the government is waiting for the tests to be evaluated sometime this week before they are made available to the general public.
“Several million tests have ben purchased for use. These are brand new products. We have to be clear they work as they are claiming to do.
Once they have been tested this week and the bulk of tests arrive, they will be distributed into the community.”
While the British government has been testing 5,000 to 6,000 people daily, authorities hope to ramp up daily tests to 25,000 within four weeks.
The new tests could help the U.K. live up to the World Health Organization (WHO) mantra of “test, test, test.” The U.N. agency sees testing as the crucial backbone of a comprehensive approach to defeating CoViD-19, which consists of testing, tracing, treating, and isolating the pandemic.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
“We cannot stop this pandemic if we do not know who is infected.”
European and Southeast Asian countries are also ordering the new antibody tests, Prof. Peacock said. She added:
“We are not alone in doing this.”