UK consumer health testing specialist launches coronavirus antibody home-to-lab blood test

UK consumer health testing specialist launches coronavirus antibody home-to-lab blood test

A home-to-lab finger-prick blood test that can detect IgG antibodies to coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is now available for private use and represents a breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus, says Nottingham-based company Medichecks.

The UK’s longest standing online consumer blood testing provider is among a handful of British companies now offering a reliable, CE-marked, IgG antibody test for coronavirus.

It comes as Public Health England (PHE) is reported to have approved a coronavirus antibody test from Roche for use in the NHS, boosting confidence in such serology testing, after a number of false starts for the UK.

Medichecks has introduced its test, priced at £69, after reviewing a number of early tests coming to market which didn’t meet the levels of accuracy that are required for pathology testing.

Dr Sam Rodgers, Medical Director at Medichecks, explains: “The products we have seen up till now simply weren’t reliable enough and we don’t bring tests to market which could give misleading results. People want to know whether they have been infected with coronavirus in the past, and tests which have been associated with high rates of false positive and false negative results can lead to uncertainty and misinformation.

“Our commitment has always been to launch the right test at the right time, and at an accessible price. These principles have guided where we’ve focused our efforts and the companies we’ve partnered with.”

Validation studies undertaken on the test detected antibodies in 100% of confirmed coronavirus cases when the sample was taken at least 14 days after symptoms first developed. The test produced a negative result in 99.6% of samples from people who did not have the infection in the same study. The laboratory reports that further small improvements in accuracy can be achieved if an individual waits for 21 days after the onset of symptoms, or 28 days from last exposure to the virus if they experienced no symptoms.

Medichecks post a sample collection kit to customers together with full instructions on how to collect a blood sample in a small vial at home. The sample is then posted to a UKAS accredited laboratory for analysis. The result, which is accompanied by a doctor’s interpretation, is uploaded to the customer’s online dashboard within 2-3 days.

Anonymised data of positive cases will be available for sharing with relevant agencies, if required. This helps to help build a more accurate picture of the spread of the virus in the UK.

Medichecks has been working closely with its laboratory partners to help validate a coronavirus antibody test.

Dr Rodgers added: “We’ve been conducting finger-prick blood tests for over 17 years and innovation is at the heart of our company, so we’ll continue to review the latest developments and lend our expertise where we can in the fight against COVID-19. It’s a fast-moving space because the virus is so new. However, this antibody test uses established, reliable technology to deliver consistent results and that’s why we’ve chosen to introduce it to our customers.

“There have been some false starts globally with testing, such as the rapid response cassettes that have not been approved for use by PHE. Sadly, it’s still a long journey to find a solution to this pandemic, but the means to deliver widespread antibody testing, which includes tests on demand from private providers, offers real hope and a valuable step forward.

"While there is currently no consensus from the worldwide scientific community on what a confirmed coronavirus infection means for immunity, when more is known about this - which will happen in time - those with confirmed tests will be better informed on their personal exposure and level of risk to others.”


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