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UK government inks deal for one million rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tests

The UK government will receive one million rapid COVID-19 antibody tests from Abingdon Health that provide results in 20 minutes.

COVID-19 antibody test

The UK government has entered into a contract with Abingdon Health, on behalf of the UK-Rapid Test Consortium (UK-RTC), for the supply of the AbC-19TM Rapid Antibody tests. As part of the contract, the UK government has placed its first order for one million COVID-19 rapid antibody tests. According to the company, this follows an independent evaluation commissioned by the UK government of the AbC-19 Rapid Antibody test, which will be published in full in due course by Public Health England (PHE), after peer review. 

The AbC-19 Rapid Test uses a small drop of blood from a finger-prick and shows results in 20 minutes, without the need to go to a specialised laboratory. The test detects IgG antibodies to “full trimeric Spike proteins” of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This means the test detects those antibodies which interfere with the virus’s ability to enter the human cells.

The test can be administered by healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and healthcare workers, at the point-of-care. It has already received the CE mark, which indicates health and safety conformity for goods sold in the UK and EU.

The company says the test will make it possible to build a swift and clear picture of how the virus has spread throughout the UK population. It will also be able to help establish the effectiveness of any vaccine which provides protection by creating new antibodies. This information will be critical to managing current and future outbreaks of COVID-19.

Mass production is already under way; Abingdon Health has fast-tracked development and manufactured the test in weeks. This process would normally take 10 months or more. The antibody test will be rolled out under the government’s COVID-19 surveillance studies to help build a picture of how the virus has spread across the country.

Abingdon Health Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chris Yates said: “Our test will help give a picture of how many people in the UK have antibodies. This will be a crucial part of the understanding of immunity to COVID-19. Mass testing will also help understand what the longevity of immunity is and in time, help assess the efficiency of any vaccine on the market. In this respect, high-quality mass antibody testing has never been more important and it will be critical for future public health responses. The UK government order of the first one million tests is an endorsement of this UK designed, developed and manufactured high-quality rapid diagnostic test… We have ramped up production since the start of August and will be ready to deliver the first tests to the government by early October.”

An extensive validation study performed by Ulster University, UK, involving over 1,000 participant blood samples is currently under peer review for publication.

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