Health authorities in the UK have banned laboratories from processing samples taken from coronavirus antibody home testing kits sold by Superdrug and online pharmacies amid concerns over “unreliable results.”
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has advised Britons to ignore the test results as they are not approved by the government.
“We are asking all providers of laboratory-based Covid-19 antibody testing services using capillary blood collected by a fingerprick to temporarily stop providing this service until home collection of this sample type has been properly validated for use with these laboratory tests,” an MHRA Spokesperson said as cited by the Daily Mail.
Blood samples from privately bought antibody tests are aimed to tell users if they have had the virus at any point in the past (antigen tests determine whether a person is currently infected) and are currently available to buy online from around £60 to £70. High street giants Superdrug and Lloyds both sell home finger-prick antibody test services.
The test appears to be caught up in a web of bureaucratic red tape, and it’s part-approved by health authorities – but the method of sampling, the finger pricking, is not.
“The public need to be aware that those tests are not the same as those we have evaluated and approved for use,” Professor John Newton, the British government’s testing chief, warned last week.
“The laboratory-based tests have a much higher standard of accuracy. We wouldn’t recommend at the moment that people rely on the tests that are becoming widely available.”
Meanwhile, the UK government has confirmed the purchase of 10 million approved antibody tests from pharma giant Roche, though these will be rolled out in hospitals and care homes first, and then administered among essential workers before reaching the wider population.
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