As the director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, Professor Sharon Peacock is leading the campaign to distribute 15-minute home coronavirus finger-prick test kits that will reveal whether one has been exposed to COVID-19.
Professor Peacock spoke at a press conference yesterday in the UK, revealing that distribution for public use will commence once Oxford University scientists complete their evaluation, and should be available in a few days, with ‘minimal cost’.
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The home test kits, which resemble a pregnancy test, is done by pricking a finger to produce a drop of blood. The blood sample is then analysed by the device, which detects the presence of an antibody that arises very early on in the infection, therefore detecting if a person has had the coronavirus before and has since recovered.
The tests have the potential to accelerate testing processes, allowing people who are unsure whether they have or are currently carrying the virus quick results, in an expedient and cheap way.
According to Professor Peacock, the UK government have already purchased 3.5 million test kits.
“Several million tests have been purchased for use,” Professor Peacock said. “These are brand new products. We have to be clear they work as they are claimed to do.”
“Once we are assured that they do work, they will be rolled out into the community,” she told the media. “Taking the test is a small matter and I anticipate that it will be done by the end of this week.”
“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.”
The UK government are currently using a test which takes a much longer time to obtain results and only analyses whether a person has the virus.
The test kits will not be restricted within the U.K; according to Professor Peacock, Amazon have agreed to carry out distribution to deliver the home tests worldwide. Within the UK, tests will also be available at pharmacies.
“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,” said Peacock.