Thousands of home tests for coronavirus are to be delivered to people self isolating “within days” – Public Health England (PHE) have said.
We’ve put together all the details on what you need to know about the 15-minute home testing kits for coronavirus – including who can access them.
How does the coronavirus home test work?
The test checks if a person has detectable antibodies in their blood, which would mean that they have been exposed to the virus.
The kit itself looks similar to a pregnancy test. To use it, you have to prick your finger to produce a drop of blood, which is analysed on the device.
It takes just 10 to 15 minutes to complete the test.
The results of some of the tests on order can be read by anyone, but others would need to be interpreted by healthcare professionals.
How will the test help fight coronavirus?
In a previous briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that these types of tests could be a “game changer” in regards to the ongoing pandemic.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Professor Trudie Lang, director of the Global Health Network, University of Oxford, said that these types of tests would be “transformational” in the fight against the virus.
She said: “We can make sure we’ve got doctors or nurses who can work safely in hospitals. People wouldn’t have to isolate unnecessarily at home for 14 days, because you’ll be able to tell very quickly if people have cleared it or not.”
Currently, it’s only patients who have been admitted to hospital who are being routinely tested for the virus.
When will the tests be available?
Today (Wednesday 25 March), Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the national infection service at Public Health England (PHE) told the Science and Technology Committee that 3.5 million of these tests have been purchased, and would be available in the “near future”.
Once this has happened, they will be made available to test healthcare workers, as well as the general public.
Peacock said: “Several million tests have been purchased for use. These are brand new products.
“We have to be clear they work as they claimed to do.”
When asked if they would be made available in days, rather than weeks or months, Peak said: “Yes, absolutely.”
How will they be distributed?
Online retail giant Amazon has agreed to carry out distribution of the tests, which will also be available to purchase in chemist shops as well, such as Boots.
Peacock said: “Once they have been tested this week and the bulk of tests arrive, they will be distributed into the community.”
It was also revealed that the UK is not the only country that is ordering these tests.
“Tests are being ordered across Europe and elsewhere and purchased in south-east Asia. This is widespread practice. We are not alone in doing this,” Peacock said.
How much do they cost?
It’s unclear if there will be a charge for the kits yet, but Peacock said she thought that if there is a charge, that it would be minimal.