Government buys 1 million pin-prick Covid-19 tests that ‘don’t work’

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A million government-bought finger-prick blood tests that would tell you in 20 minutes if you’ve had Covid-19 are “not yet proven to work,” scientists have warned.

They say the tests, which look for proteins released by the immune system in response to the virus, were “rushed” by the Department of Health.

Manufactured by York-based biomedical company Abingdon Health, the ‘99% accurate’ antibody test has yet to receive Drugs and Health Products Regulatory Agency approval for home use – this is how the government intends to use them.

The government has purchased one million pin-prick Covid-19 tests that are supposed to diagnose the disease within 20 minutes inside a patient’s home, photo posed by the model

Although some drugs and diagnostic tools have been speeded up in the same way, there is little evidence that these tests will be useful, experts said. They warned that there were reports of the government’s disastrous investment in antibody kits in April, when 3.5 million of those purchased were found to be unusable.

Professor John Ashton, former director of public health for the North West of England, said: “This is typical of the government’s approach to the pandemic. They take a kick with these tests, they rush, and then they don’t work.

“The ministers are in a state of panic and they are making mistakes. “

Professor Allyson Pollock, a member of the SAGE group advising the government, added: “If these tests are not properly evaluated and used in the right way, they represent a massive waste of public resources.

“It’s money that could be spent on primary or social care. Instead, the government is trying to develop a tech industry by putting the economy ahead of public health.

Ministers have spoken for months about their intention to introduce testing, with Boris Johnson declaring them to be a ‘game-changer’ in the fight against Covid-19. But there are concerns about the effectiveness of DIY blood tests, which often produce unreliable results.

The Abingdon Health website does not recommend home use of its antibody test, called AbC-19, claiming it is “for healthcare professionals only.” And when contacted by that newspaper, the company said, “The test cannot be done at home – it has not been approved for it. “

But a government press release described the acquisition as “home antibody testing.”

Ministers have spoken for months about their intention to introduce testing, with Boris Johnson declaring them to be a 'game-changer' in the fight against Covid-19. But there are concerns about the effectiveness of DIY blood tests, which often produce unreliable results.

Ministers have spoken for months about their intention to introduce testing, with Boris Johnson declaring them to be a ‘game-changer’ in the fight against Covid-19. But there are concerns about the effectiveness of DIY blood tests, which often produce unreliable results.

Lawrence Young, a professor of virology at the University of Warwick who advised Abingdon Health on the creation of the tests, said they needed “broader validation” before they could be used by the public. He added, “It’s hard to ask people to take a test and read it accurately. People often make mistakes when providing the blood sample because it is such a complicated task. Until we have broader validation, we have to be careful.

Studies published last week by scientists evaluating the Abingdon Health test on behalf of the company indicate that up to 224 samples were missed because scientists found them difficult to interpret. Dr Hayley Jones, senior lecturer in medical statistics at the University of Bristol, said the detail means the accuracy of the test could be “overestimated”.

Abingdon Health says on its website that the home test has been independently evaluated by Public Health England, who informed the Department of Health prior to the purchase, and that the results will be released soon. The company also says its test “meets all the quality and regulatory standards required for use by healthcare professionals” and “will help give some idea of ​​how many people in the UK have anti-Covid antibodies.” 19, which will help to understand immunity to the virus’.

In a statement, the health ministry did not deny that the tests were intended for home use and confirmed that further evaluation is underway.

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