What UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called the “game-changer” is the new antibody testing for the deadly coronavirus which can help the countries combat the pandemic in a more effective way. As of March 21, Britain, which has confirmed 3,893 cases of COVID-19 and 177 fatalities, will soon be testing 25,000 people in a single day. Johnson even said in a press conference on March 19 that the number of people to be tested could eventually rise to 250,000.
The antibody tests will not only detect the active infections in the body but will also reveal if the individual was previously exposed to the pathogen and if it developed antibodies against it, having the potential to detect the immunity. In a bid to ramp-up the testing procedures, Johnson, US President Donald Trump are currently seeking these tests in large numbers. However, the providers of the diagnostics are unable to make enough kits to match the sudden surge in demand.
Meanwhile, according to international reports, the UK Bioindustry Association is urging the life sciences sector to help the government increase the supply of the testing kits and components including swabs, vials, biohazard packaging and alcohol wipes. Moreover, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc has agreed to buy Qiagen NV, which not only makes it own testing kits but also the components that others need to make theirs. Qiagen has currently 1.5 million tests available to ship and expects to quickly ramp up to reach two million per week.
The antibody tests are also known as serological testing which is expected to be more helpful to stem the easily spread fatal virus. Instead of looking for current infections, these tests, which a British company Attomaker Ltd has claimed would take only five minutes, can also screen the previous exposure to COVID-19. The detection would further give the scientists a look into the people who have recovered from the disease and have now potentially developed immunity of their body.
According to international reports, the head of the vaccines business unit for Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Rajeev Venkayya has said that the antibody test is “even more important” because it helps the medical officials understand the epidemiology of the coronavirus which has now spread to over 180 countries since being originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan in late December 2019.