Five million antibody kits pending for NHS after authorities approve second test

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Five million anti-coronavirus antibody kits are pending use of the NHS after a second test has been approved by health authorities.

The new test – produced by medical giant Abbott – has received the green light from Public Health England as identifying 100% of those who have had the virus.

This is the second antibody test to be ratified in two days, following the approval of a kit produced by Roche Diagnostics. Abbott said last night that he had already started shipping equipment to the NHS labs in preparation for testing the first recipients in a few days.

A spokesperson for the firm said it was able to deliver five million tests a month to the UK “with immediate effect”.

Medical giant Abbott has produced the second anti-coronavirus antibody test kit to ratify in two days with five million kits currently waiting for the NHS

Medical giant Abbott produced the second anti-coronavirus antibody test kit to ratify in two days with five million kits currently waiting for the NHS

The test received the green light from Public Health England as identifying 100% of those who had the virus, after a test by Roche Diagnostics was also approved

The test received the green light from Public Health England as identifying 100% of those who had the virus, after a test by Roche Diagnostics was also approved

These are the first antibody tests to be approved as accurate by Public Health England, after weeks of disappointment. Tests detect if a person has contracted the virus and then recovered, which could indicate that they are immune.

The Department of Health is in talks with the two companies about incorporating the kits into its testing program, with NHS staff likely being the first to gain access. The Abbott test is also sold privately for home use by health technology company Babylon for £ 69.

Home use of the test – which uses a blood stain from a finger prick rather than a whole blood sample – has only been confirmed as accurate by an independent laboratory, and not yet by Public Health England .

PHE said that the ratification of the two tests carried out in its laboratories was a “very positive development”.

Both are likely to be used as part of the “test, track and trace” program to be launched next week, in which anyone who has been in contact with a coronavirus patient will be tested. Scientists stressed last night that while both tests provide useful information about people who are infected, it is not yet clear what proportion of these people will be immune to the disease.

The idea of ​​”certificates of immunity” has been abandoned for the moment for this reason, although the number 10 has stated that it is still exploring it.

There has been great hope since March that antibody tests could allow employees to return to work.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered 3.5 million tests, but it turned out that the best among them could only detect 70% of those infected. The new tests solve this problem by using laboratory proven technology, rather than the “pregnancy test” style kits on which Mr. Hancock had placed his hopes. They also generate very few “false positives”, which means that someone has been infected when they have not been.

Professor Matt Keeling of the University of Warwick said, “It could be a game-changer. Both tests are expected to eventually be available for free as part of the national testing program, although it is unclear whether people will simply be able to order them.

What are the anti-coronavirus antibody tests?

What are the tests?

Antibody tests detect those who have recovered from Covid.

How are they made?

The two ratified tests use a vial of blood, taken by needle by a nurse and then treated in the laboratory.

How do I get one?

They will initially be intended for NHS staff, but are likely to be used as part of the “contact tracing” system.

Will it be said that I am immune?

At least 95% of people with antibodies retain some protection – but it’s unclear whether it lasts for weeks or years.

Why are they useful?

To track the virus and help find out how many have it.

Are they correct?

Both capture 100% of the cases where someone has had Covid and give few “false positives”.

“Revolutionary” antibody test will go first to frontline NHS workers and could be rolled out in “days”, says government adviser

  • New Roche antibody tests will first be available to frontline workers
  • The tests, which are 100% accurate, will then be rolled out across the UK
  • Test determines if patient has been exposed to Covid-19 and has developed antibodies
  • The Ministry of Health in talks with a Swiss pharmaceutical company to buy millions of kits

Frontline workers, including those at the NHS, will be the first to get a new antibody test for Covid-19, said England’s deputy chief medical officer.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said it was clear that people who had Covid-19 generated an antibody response, but that it would take “time” to figure out if in all cases the people developed immunity against the coronavirus.

He said the data needed to be collected over time to understand whether an immune response offered protection for life or just for a few years.

Public Health England (PHE) approved a new test for the pharmaceutical giant Roche after experts from its Porton Down facility gave it the go-ahead.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam pictured at today's remote press conference to brief the country on the new COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Van-Tam said it was clear that people who had Covid-19 generated an antibody response, but that it would take time to understand whether, in all cases, people developed immunity against the coronavirus

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam pictured at today’s remote press conference to brief the country on the new COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Van-Tam said it was clear that the people who had Covid-19 generated an antibody response, but that it would take time to understand whether, in any case, the people developed immunity to the coronavirus

Public Health England has announced that a new anti-coronavirus antibody test by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche has been shown to be 100% accurate. The FDA in America has already issued an emergency use authorization

Public Health England has announced that a new anti-coronavirus antibody test by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche has been shown to be 100% accurate. The FDA in America has already issued an emergency use license

The test - which Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously called a `` game changer '' - collects cases where someone has had a coronavirus in the past and can be used on people who have no symptoms. Pictured: driving test center in Chessington

The test – which Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously called a “game changer” – collects cases where someone has had a coronavirus in the past and can be used on people who have no symptoms. Pictured: driving test center in Chessington

The test – which Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously called a “game changer” – collects cases where someone has had a coronavirus in the past and can be used on people who have no symptoms.

The test from the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche is 100% accurate, which means that it will identify all those who have had COVID-19. Experts hope these people could be immune to a new infection for up to three years.

WHY IS THE ANTIBODY TEST IMPORTANT?

WHAT IS ANTIBODY TEST?

Unlike disease diagnostic tests, antibody tests show who has been infected and recovered.

The body makes antibodies in response to many diseases and infections, including other coronaviruses. New blood tests are being developed to identify antibodies unique to SARS-CoV-2, the official name for the new coronavirus.

The tests look for two types of antibodies: immunoglobulins M (IgM) and G (IgG). The body quickly produces IgM antibodies for its first attack against infections. It slows down IgG antibodies and keeps them longer; IgG antibodies suggest possible immunity.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TESTS AND QUICK TESTS?

Some companies are developing finger prick tests that work in minutes. These tests are called immunoassays and will form the basis of home test kits.

Others are developing much more precise tests called enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) that require sending blood samples to a laboratory for analysis.

HOW CAN ANTIBODY TESTS HELP END THE LOCK?

Antibody tests can help calculate which part of the population has already been infected, as well as whether the infections were mild or severe.

Governments and businesses could use antibody tests to determine who would be most likely to return to work and interact with the public, and whether it is safe to lift home support orders all at once in some regions or in stages depending on the risk of infection.

People with negative antibody tests or very low antibody levels would likely have a higher risk of infection than people with high antibody levels.

DO THE NEW CORONAVIRUS ANTIBODIES CONFER IMMUNITY?

Although antibodies to many infectious diseases generally confer a certain level of immunity, it is not yet known if this is the case with this unique coronavirus.

And the strength of immunity or its duration in previously infected people is unclear. With certain illnesses like measles, immunity can last a lifetime. With others, immunity may decline over time.

Scientists may not know for certain that reinfection is not possible until further research is done.

Antibody tests could inform not only the locking out, but the best approach to treatment and vaccines.

The ministers are currently in talks with Roche to purchase millions of kits, which officials today announced will be released to the NHS and social workers before being deployed more widely. It requires that blood samples be taken by qualified doctors.

Insiders say it is unlikely that the laboratory test, which is not designed to give people a result in their own home, will be available for private purchase, at least initially. It is not clear how much the tests could cost, if and when they can be purchased.

In addition to the United States, Germany also outstripped Britain in the race to get lab tests, ordering millions of tests early this month after the kit got the vital “CE mark” that shows that it is safe. to use in Europe.

Antibody tests – which require only a small amount of blood – are designed to find out if anyone has contracted the virus in the past. They do not say precisely if someone is currently infected.

They are considered essential for easy locking, as they paint the clearest picture of the scope of COVID-19. The real scale of Britain’s epidemic is a mystery because health officials abandoned a mass testing regime at the start of the crisis.

Professor Van-Tam said the test would be “incredibly important” in the weeks and months to come, stating at press point 10: “I anticipate that it will be deployed quickly in the days and weeks to come – as soon as it is practical.

“I also anticipate that the focus will be on the national health service and caregivers first. “

Experts believe that those who have had Covid-19 develop some degree of immunity, which means that the test could prove to be a useful tool to help ease the lock restrictions.

Number 10 said the new antibody test would “certainly” be available on the NHS, but commercial discussions with Roche are ongoing.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said that the idea of ​​a “certificate of immunity” was also under consideration if science showed that people were developing immunity against Covid-19.

Professor John Newton, national coordinator of the UK Coronavirus Testing Program, said that although it is not yet known to what extent the presence of antibodies indicates immunity, the test was a “very positive development” and was a “Very reliable marker of past infection”.

He added, “This in turn may indicate some immunity against future infection, although the extent to which the presence of antibodies indicates immunity remains unclear. “

Roche said it could provide hundreds of thousands of tests each week. The tests run on fully automated equipment already widely installed by Roche at NHS sites across the United Kingdom.

Professor John Newton (photo), national coordinator of the UK Coronavirus Testing Program, said that although it is not yet known to what extent the presence of antibodies indicates immunity, the test was a `` very positive development and was a `` very reliable marker of past infection ''

Professor John Newton (photo), national coordinator of the UK Coronavirus Testing Program, said that although it is not yet known to what extent the presence of antibodies indicates immunity, the test was a “very positive development” and was a ‘very reliable marker of past infection’

The pharmaceutical company said it would prioritize testing for distribution via the NHS before examining how it could be sold to consumers.

Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, said that the development of the antibody test was “a good result”.

He told Radio 4 Today: “This is a step in the right direction. In the evolution of these antibody tests, getting one that works really well is a big step forward. “

Sir John said the antibodies “would probably stay for a year or two”, adding that the Roche test was the “best test currently available on the market”.

Health Minister Edward Argar said the government plans to roll out the new test for frontline workers first.

THE CALENDAR OF ANTIBODY TEST DEVELOPMENTS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

March 25: Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National PHE Infection Service, said MPs’ antibody kits would be ready in a few days.

But the confusion was sparked when the chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said that the tests would not be ready to be purchased online in a few days.

March 26: Professor Yvonne Doyle, medical director of PHE, told MEPs that she expected home antibody tests to be available in a few weeks.

April 1: At the Downing Street press conference, Professor Doyle disputed the claim that PHE was “dragging its feet” in approving antibody tests.

She said, “The important thing in these antibody tests is not to drag your feet, it is important that the test is valid, that it does what it says. “

April 6: Sir John Bell, one of the University of Oxford teams evaluating antibody tests for the government, revealed that none of them worked well.

April 17: The New York Times reported that Britain was requesting a refund of £ 16 million after two antibody tests it bought from Chinese companies were not precise enough to be deployed.

April 21th: Experts from the University of Oxford published the anonymized results of the nine tests the government had purchased – they showed that all were deemed too weak to be used.

Their sensitivity – the ability to correctly identify people who had had the disease – ranged from 70% to only 55%.

May 3: US regulators have given the green light to the “revolutionary” antibody test by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche.

May 4: German health bosses announce an agreement with Roche to buy 3 million of its kits in May, as well as 5 million per month from June.

May 13: Public Health England follows suit, approving the test to be used. It has been revealed that health leaders are planning to buy millions.

Speaking at the BBC breakfast, Argar said: “The public health assessment in England has just been seen as reliable, as doing the job, and so we are having these discussions.

“But we want to get them as quickly as possible and get them out, mainly on the front line, the NHS, social services, and more broadly.”

Argar said the public could not yet get their hands on the test, saying, “We are not yet able to deploy it to the public and prepare for the tests. “

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said, “We are studying the use of antibody tests in the NHS and ultimately the general public.”

But Professor Matthew Baylis, an expert in veterinary epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, has questioned the test – suggesting it could produce false positive results and cause people to be reassured when they shouldn’t be.

The results were hailed as a “very positive development” in Britain’s antibody test plans, after weeks of disappointment over the promised roll-out of DIY home kits.

Despite promising home tests, the UK has yet to approve, as health leaders insist they can’t find a precise enough finger prick kit – although it has assessed that a handful of tests.

A company awarded millions of pounds by health leaders – Bedfordshire-based Mologic – hopes its kit will be ready to be purchased by the British from online retailers such as Boots and Amazon by early June.

Sir John Bell, an immunologist at the University of Oxford involved in the evaluation of antibody kits for the government, said today that the approval of Roche’s test was “a step in the right direction”, but admitted that approval takes “longer than it should”.

He suggested that officials wanted to be absolutely sure that the tests were correct, telling the BBC Radio 4 Today program: “I think you have to be a little careful. It took a week or two longer than it could have.

“But remember when the home test came out and people were rushing to say it was all great. We decided that we should stop and take a break and just make sure they were what they were made to be.

“And when we tested them, of course they didn’t work, so I think you have to be a little careful. It took a week or two longer than it could have.

Sir John added: “It is not like the swab test where it is urgent to put this into play. Once you get antibodies, your antibodies probably stay for a year or two.

“And all he tells you, to be clear, is whether you got the infection or not, so in terms of treating patients where there is a real emergency, I think it’s less important .

“To be clear, this is the best approved test available on the market today, but there will be other iterations of these tests as there are ways to improve them. “

Following today’s announcement, Roche shares – which are also doing swab tests for the government – rose slightly to 45.03 this morning, up slightly from 44.86 on the record. end of yesterday.

The news of the test are as follows:

  • Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick admitted the situation in nursing homes was “absolutely terrible” as the government prepared to give more details on how a £ 600m package for control infections would be spent in England
  • On Wednesday, 126,064 tests were carried out.
  • On average, 148,000 people in England had Covid-19 between April 27 and May 10 (the closed time), according to new estimates from the Office for National Statistics – the equivalent of 0.27% of the population.
  • Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said more than half of the people of the Isle of Wight have now downloaded the NHS contact finder.

The results come as emergency room visits and emergency hospital admissions to hospitals in England fell to their lowest level ever seen against coronavirus.

Data published by NHS England shows that 0.9 million A&E visits were recorded in April 2020, down 57% from 2.1 million in April 2019.

The number is the lowest in all calendar months since the records began in August 2010.

NHS England, which released the figures, said the fall was “probably the result of Covid-19’s response” – an indication that people have moved away from A&E services due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Emergency admissions to hospital A&E services in England also fell sharply last month, down 39% from 535,226 in April 2019 to 326,581 in April 2020.

This is the lowest number reported for a calendar month since the start of the current records.

Data for all cancer referrals also showed an 8% drop.

After today's announcement, Roche's shares rose slightly to 44.95, the highest for several weeks, according to Yahoo! Finance

After today’s announcement, Roche’s shares rose slightly to 44.95, the highest in several weeks, according to Yahoo! Finance

Some 181,873 urgent referrals for cancer were made by general practitioners in England in March 2020, compared to 198,418 in March 2019.

Urgent referrals for breast cancer registered a larger decrease, from 17,137 in March 2019 to 12,411 in March 2020, a decrease of 28%.

Lynda Thomas, Executive Director of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Cancer must not become the forgotten” C “of this pandemic.

“Government directives for cancer services to continue during the virus have not occurred consistently and it is now vital that we see comprehensive plans on how the NHS will catch up”

Admissions for all routine surgeries to hospitals in England in March 2020 amounted to 207,754, compared to 305,356 in March 2019, a decrease of 32%.

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