Coronavirus: Microbiologist's instant reaction to PM's pledge to buy better quality tests

19 March 2020, 18:39

By Fiona Jones

Microbiology professor reacted to Boris Johnson's pledge that the UK will buy "hundreds and thousands" of sophisticated antibody tests to determine coronavirus diagnosis.

Professor Mark Fielder said it was interesting that the conference was "in no way political at all" and was simply a request to follow the official health advice.

"The message is coming across now that [young people] have a role as well, just because they are less affected in many cases...doesn't mean they will not spread the disease. So it's implying that social distancing advice to all of our age groups," he said.

Boris Johnson said that the government intends to buy "hundreds of thousands" of antibody tests, which are as simple as pregnancy tests, to determine whether people have the virus.

"What that'll do is allow us to do quick tests to see if the patient being tested has actually developed an immune response against the virus," Professor Fielder explained.

He said that the new tests would be sophisticated enough to determine not just whether the virus is currently in a patient, but if it has been in a patient and passed - "that will start to tell us where this virus has been and that's particularly important in terms of us tracking the extent of this epidemic."

"When it does come it'll be a very welcome edition," Professor Fielder said.

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