Soon you'll be able to test if you've got coronavirus, and recovered from it, in just 15 minutes using a coronavirus home test kit. These will be available from retailers such as Boots and Amazon shortly, according to a director of Public Health England (PHE).
The UK government has ordered 3.5 million coronavirus test kits, initially targeted at key workers, with many more on the way. The kits are currently being tested.
In a statement to the UK government's Science and Technology Committee made on March 25, Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at PHE, said:
"In the near future people will be able to order a test that they can test themselves, or go to Boots, or somewhere similar to have their finger prick test done.
“Several million tests have been purchased for use. These are brand new products. We have to be clear they work as they are claimed to do.
“Once they have been tested this week and the bulk of tests arrive, they will be distributed into the community.”
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However, FullFact reported health minister Edward Argar clarified Professor Peacock's comments on March 26, saying “good progress” was being made with the testing kit's development, but he "[didn’t] want to set an artificial timeline” and would not give a specific date for these tests' availability.
On March 29, Health Secretary Matt Hancock Tweeted the UK government was testing 10,000 people a day and is "well on its way" to 25,000.
NEWS: Good news that we’ve reached 10,000 #coronavirus tests a day - ahead of schedule. We’re on track to 25,000. #StayHomeSaveLivesMarch 29, 2020
Its target by the end of April is to test 100,000 people per day, although it has hit a snag: on March 30, key components from overseas needed for the coronavirus tests being produced were found to have been contaminated with the virus itself.
There's still no word on the commercial tests' availability, beyond the fact they're reportedly due to hit warehouses and shelves by May. All NHS staff are also due to have been tested by the end of April.
How do coronavirus home test kits work?
The tests take the form of antibody tests, done with just a prick of the finger. You'll be able to pop the blood into a well on the test stick and it will check if the user has developed coronavirus-fighting antibodies. Wide availability of these tests will allow key workers like doctors, nurses and supermarket employees to be able to return to work if they have had and recovered from the virus.
However, before retailers like Amazon and Boots are allowed to distribute the blood-testing kits, they have to be road-tested in a laboratory to ensure they're working as required. At time of writing, this has not been completed.
There's also currently no word on how much the kits will cost. Keep checking back: we'll provide links to where you can find the kits, how much they'll cost and more as soon as the information becomes available.
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