COVID-19: Antibody tests only useful if they are accurate and reliable - expert comment27 March 2020
Dr Simon Clarke, an associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading said:
"We have heard mixed messages from the Department of Health and Public Health England (PHE) on the availability of testing. The government announced that it had purchased 3.5 million tests and PHE said they would be released imminently, only for the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer to tell us that they first need to be tested to see how well they work.
“Has the government purchased a load of tests that don't work, as has happened in Spain?"
Dr Al Edwards, an associate professor in Biomedical Technology at the University of Reading said:
One of the ways that the Government hopes to ensure that the healthcare workforce can keep working is the use of antibody testing. A lot of experts are trying to understand how best this rapid test technology can be used.
One the key challenges is that we haven’t extensively used these type of home tests in the UK much before, so a lot of work is needed to make sure when they are available, they are used safely and effectively. This starts with accuracy checks- then we must ensure they remain accurate when used in the real world.
Dr Al Edwards has written an explainer on COVID-19 tests, how they work and what’s in development: