Businesses baffled as government begs to make test kits after ignoring offers

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Matt Hancock and Covid-19 test kit
Government asked companies to help it build test kits (Photo: PA / AP)

The government has asked companies to help it make coronavirus test kits and personal protective equipment – although it did not respond to their offers a week ago.

The Department of Health and Welfare has responded to the shortage of protective equipment and test kits nationwide by sending forms to British manufacturers asking them to step up.

But many companies and scientists said they had offered help before and never gotten an answer. The head of a fully equipped laboratory in Leicester said he contacted the NHS on March 17 and said he would be happy to use all of his capacity to help the health service, but has yet to receive a response.

Matthew Freeman of the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford said in a tweet that they had “a lot of people experienced in PCR” – machines that examine DNA samples for viral genetic material . He added, “We would love to help and have been trying to volunteer for weeks. There must be many university departments and institutes occupying a similar position. “

Companies say they offered to help government build kits weeks ago, but they were ignored (Source: AP Photo)

Also throwing their hat in the ring, the makers of BioSure HIV self-test kits.

The company’s general manager, Brigette Bard, demanded that the government set a standard of precision for manufacturers.

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Although her company’s tests are already supposed to be at least 99.5% accurate, she said they couldn’t recalibrate their kits to detect coronaviruses until they know the reference.

She told MailOnline: “We have had five very successful years in the market generating masses of evidence, data, everything, so we have proven that we have a very usable and very precise test. “

Speaking to Twitter last night, she added, “We are ready to validate this test at PHE. But they won’t see it because it’s a self-test… This test must be on the UK market. “

Matt Hancock announced a plan to speed up coronavirus testing (Source: Pippa Fowles / 10 Downing Street)

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said, “These allegations are false and mislead the public.

“We are working around the clock to assess the tests, including antibody tests that could be used at home.

“But companies have to provide us with enough information about their products so that we can make the right decisions when validating their tests.

“Public health is our top priority, which is why we will not rush the tests before they are ready. “

They said Biosure did not provide the government with detailed information so that it could fully assess their products.

Government under increasing pressure to manufacture and distribute test kits (Photo: PA)

The spokesperson added, “The government is currently evaluating antibody tests – potentially home tests that could let people know if they have had the virus and are now immune, allowing them to return to work. “

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this week that the government was working to increase the testing capacity of COVID-19 to 100,000 per day by the end of April.

But he said that this goal did not include antibody tests – tests that indicate whether someone has ever had the virus.

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The British Medical Association has also told the government that without adequate protective equipment for NHS workers such as masks, gloves and aprons, more would die.

So far, 3,605 people in the UK have been killed by a coronavirus and more than 38,000 have been infected.

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