SUPERDRUG is the first high street shop in the UK to stock coronavirus antibody tests.
The finger prick kits are designed to show you if you have had the bug, but how do they work? Here's everything you need to know.
What are Superdrug's antibody tests?
Antibody tests are the 'have you had? it test'.
An effective antibody test has been seen as one of the potential "game changers" in the fight agaisnt Covid-19.
They're designed to show whether you've been infected with coronavirus.
They differ from antigen – or swab tests – which will show if someone is currently infected currently the virus.
Some experts think those who have had the virus and recovered could now have vital antibodies in their system, designed to fight off the new strain of flu.
It means some people could now be "immune" to coronavirus, but this is only in theory.
Data from China shows some Covid-19 became "re-infected," but more research is needed to completely understand how the virus's antibodies work.
Experts are yet to determine whether those with antibodies have immunity and if so, how long it lasts.
How much do the tests cost?
Superdrug's antibody tests cost £69.
When asked about the £69 charge for the test, Prof Lawrence Young, a professor in molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, said: "Sounds expensive."
Yvonne Fovargue, the MP who chairs a parliamentary panel on consumer protection, raised issues with the price. She said: “£70 with postage for a test which is not completely accurate seems excessive.
“Superdrug seems to be playing on people’s fears and that’s not right. What people really need is a readily available, easy to use test that’s accurate. They deserve nothing less.”
A spokesman for Superdrug said: “The price is reflective of the cost price that we pay for the testing.”
How do the tests work?
The kit is sent out in the post with instructions on how to carry out a finger prick test using a lancet – it's similar to how diabetics test their sugar levels.
If you take the test, you'll be required to deposit a few drops of blood into a small vial.
You then post off the sample using a a free-post label in the secure packaging provided.
The experts will then look for antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus – the bug that causes Covid-19 – in the blood sample provided.
It detects the IgG, which is the protein that develops after infection, and if positive, it means that the person tested had the virus at some point.
Once the results are sent through from the lab, Superdrug online doctors will be able to review them and send a confidential secure message to the patient through their online account informing them of the outcome.
The retailer says its test has a sensitivity of 97.5 per cent – which means that 2.5 per cent of previous infections might go undetected.
The results are then available online within 24 hours of the sample reaching the lab.
However, regardless of your result you still must follow social distancing guidlines.
Michael Henry, Superdrug’s Healthcare Director, said: “We’re launching a Covid-19 antibody test because we’re confident of its accuracy and reliability.
"The Public Health England approved test is an accessible way for people to know whether they have already been infected with Covid-19.
"The test will only be available online via our online doctor service and will not be available in our stores.”
Are the tests government approved?
No, Superdrug's tests are not government approved.
However, Superdrug says all of the components of its home sampling kits are CE marked and the test is run by a UKAS-accredited laboratory.
It's suitable for those over the age of 18 but you need to wait at least 14 days after experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, as that's how long it can take to develop antibodies.
If you haven't had any symptoms recently, or never had them, you can test at any time.
Where else can I buy antibody tests?
Government approved antibody tests – one by Roche and the other by Abbott Labs – have not been made available to the general public just yet, and frontline workers will get priority when they are.
However, private clinics, online pharmacies and even eBay sellers are flogging at-home checks from as little as £12 to an eye-watering £400.
The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it does not directly license home antibody test kits.
Researchers say they are hopeful that the first UK finger-prick home test kits could be available next month, but as yet none have had regulatory approval.
So while at-home tests are being sold online, it's important to note that none of them so far have been approved for use in the UK.
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