A new rapid test that tells users within 20 minutes whether they have contracted a coronavirus is being tested in the UK.
If successful, other countries, including the United States, could use the new COVID-19 LAMP test developed by Optigene, a US manufacturer.
It comes just days after the Trump administration promoted a similar test done by US pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories
as a key factor in controlling the epidemic in the United States.
However, the United States Food and Drug Administration later warned the public about the reliability of the Abbott ID NOW test, warning: “We are still evaluating the information on inaccurate results and are in direct communication with Abbott on this important issue.”
See:The Abbott coronavirus test may need a backup for false negatives
On a day of big announcements on Thursday, British Health Minister Matt Hancock said he had also ordered 10 million antibody tests from Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche Diagnostics.
However, he warned that it was too early to say whether the presence of antibodies meant that citizens would be immune to the virus.
Hancock said: “Innovative science has its risks – many projects do not withdraw. But it’s worth supporting things before you know they will work. I do not apologize for that. “
Tests of the new rapid coronavirus test, which returns results in 20 minutes, began in Hampshire, in the south of England, on Thursday.
Obtaining results immediately, without the need for test samples to be sent to a laboratory to be treated, will mean that people with symptoms have immediate certainty whether they have the virus. This will mean that they can quickly follow the advice to stay at home if they test positive or are free to return to work.
The test is effective in clinical settings.
Read:The World Health Organization says lessons can be learned from Sweden – now its daily deaths are rising
Up to 4,000 people will take part in the pilot, which will run for up to six weeks. It will be led by the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust. Trained health professionals will take a swab and process the results on site.
Hancock said: “This new test can provide accurate results almost on the spot. This will allow health and healthcare workers to continue their shift or isolate themselves immediately on the same day and could ultimately offer the same benefit to the whole country.
“This could change the way we control COVID-19 across the country by bringing those with negative results back into society as quickly as possible.”
A separate antibody test is a priority for healthcare professionals. So far, ten million tests have been provided with companies, including Roche and Abbott Labs, and the government has said they will be introduced in the coming months, and additional agreements will be negotiated with suppliers to provide millions of laboratory tests for antibodies.
Hancock said: “A positive antibody test, whichever test is used, does not mean that the subject is currently immunized against COVID-19. There is no hard evidence that the presence of antibodies means that someone cannot be infected with the virus or will not pass it on to someone else. If someone tests positive, they still have to follow the measures for social distancing and appropriate use of PPE. “
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