- “This test developed by Roche appears to be extremely reliable, it’s got the green light from testers,” said Health Minister Edward Argar.
- The test does not determine whether the person has immunity.
- The UK has so far recorded 33,186 deaths from the COVID -19 pandemic.
The British government confirmed today that it approved the first serological test for COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche. Furthermore, they used to determine whether a person has already been infected with the coronavirus, and whether they have developed antibodies against it.
“This test developed by Roche appears to be extremely reliable, it’s got the green light from testers,” health minister Edward Argar told the BBC on Thursday. “We are currently in discussions with Roche about that. We are very keen to get that test on stream as swiftly as we can,” he added, calling it a potential “game-changer.”
The same sentiments are shared by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who has previously described antibody testing a ”game changer,” as it may reveal how many people have had COVID-19.
The serological test is used to determine the presence of antibodies in the blood, whether a person has already been infected with the new coronavirus, and whether they have developed antibodies against it. However, it does not determine whether the person has immunity, something that the World Health Organization said at the end of April there is still no evidence that initially infected people will develop immunity.
As John Bell, Professor of Medicine at Oxford University told BBC Radio 4:
“If the test is positive, it says with certainty that the person has had the infection, which is useful for a number of reasons. But what I think does not say with absolute certainty is whether the person will be protected in the future. It will still be necessary to make improvements in the test to be able to know if [the person] has future protection against the virus.”
This test, which Swiss pharmaceutical Roche claims to have a high degree of sensitivity and specificity, was approved in the UK about 10 days after receiving the green light from European and American authorities.
The company’s president, Christoph Franz, said in early May that the “extraordinarily high sensitivity and specificity” – 100% and 99.81%, respectively, and the “new qualitative level” that this test can bring to measurement studies of population immunity to SARS – CoV -2, the coronavirus that causes COVID -19 disease, will aid in “reopening not only the economy but also society.”
According to the data update made today by the Ministry of Health, the UK has so far recorded 33,186 deaths from the COVID -19 pandemic, the highest numbers in Europe and the second-largest in the world, behind the USA. On Wednesday, the British government started the first relief phase confinement, encouraging workers to sectors that can not perform the activity at home, such as building or industry, to return to jobs.
Depending on the contagion index, it has programmed in a phase, from June 1, the partial reopening of primary schools and some non-essential stores, such as clothes, and in a third phase, “at the latest in July,” the government intends to reopen parts of the service sector, such as cafes and restaurants.