Coronavirus home-testing kits to be rolled out in 'ambitious' tracking programme

30 April 2020, 00:27

File photo: A test sample is held at a Covid-19 testing centre at Glasgow Airport
File photo: A test sample is held at a Covid-19 testing centre at Glasgow Airport. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Home-testing kits will be used to track the spread of coronavirus within the community as part of an "ambitious" new programme, the Government has said.

Swab tests will be sent to 100,000 randomly-selected people across England to see if they currently have Covid-19, according to the Department of Health.

Antibody tests are also being assessed, which could be used in a second phase of the study named the Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (React).

The kits, which detect whether the body could have successfully built up immunity to the virus, will first be handed out to 300 volunteers from Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust to determine accuracy.

After that, 10,000 volunteers and 5,000 key workers will be invited to read the results taken from a finger prick of blood combined with a dye.

If the trials are successful, the kits will be rolled out to 100,000 people later in the year which scientists will use to track the spread of the disease through the prevalence of antibodies.

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The research, lead by scientists and clinicians at Imperial College London alongside colleagues at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and pollsters Ipsos Mori will use self-sampling like that used in diabetes medicine.

Health Minister Lord Bethell believes learning how the virus spreads is a "vital part of our ongoing response to this pandemic".

He said that the "ambitions new testing programme" will "inform the future action we take to manage the spread of the virus, including new tests and treatments".

The news comes on the same day the Government had hoped to reach its target of 100,000 daily tests.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to carry out 100,000 tests a day by the end of April, but just 52,429 were conducted on Tuesday.