Coronavirus: What is the "game-changer" test and how does it work?

25 March 2020, 17:22 | Updated: 25 March 2020, 21:09

By Fiona Jones

Coronavirus: What is the "game-changer" test and how does it work? LBC asks the experts.

Millions of "game-changer" coronavirus tests could be made readily available to the public within a matter of days, a Public Health England official told MPs.

Dr Jenny Vaughan explained how the test works.

"What you do is you prick your finger, get a drop of blood and that is analysed by a device. They hope it's going to be available to test health care workers and the general public."

"It's a game-changer, it really is," she continued, "because we want to be able to get healthcare workers back to work. If they've got symptoms at the moment they're having to self-isolate because we absolutely want to save as many lives as possible. So they will know whether they have or have recovered from Covid."

PHE say 3.5 million tests could be available next week
PHE say 3.5 million tests could be available next week. Picture: PA

"It's an antibody test. So basically it tests for the called IGM and the IGG antibody," Dr Vaughan said.

"The only thing that people need to know is the earliest you can detect IGM is around four days so in the early stages an early test might be falsely negative. That doesn't mean you can definitely go out safely."

Dr Vaughan said that we don't know yet how long immunity lasts for however called this a "positive step."

"What we want the government to do is very much prioritise it for key workers and then we think everyone should get tested," she said, "not just to get them back to work but because what we know from South Korea is mass testing actually helps them get on top of the disease quicker.

"And goodness me, that's exactly what we want to do at the moment."

Since this interview chief medical officer Chris Whitty announced that the test will not be released in a matter of days but in some weeks' time.

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