“The hunt for a "game-changing" antibody test may be over after a version backed by the UK Government passed its first major trials with flying colours.
“Ministers are drawing up plans to distribute millions of free pregnancy-style tests after they were shown to be 98.6 per cent accurate in secret human trials held last month, The Telegraph can disclose.
“Developed by Oxford University in partnership with leading UK diagnostics firms, the fingerprick test, designed for use at home, can tell within 20 minutes whether a person has ever been exposed to coronavirus.
Until now, the only antibody tests approved in the UK have involved blood samples sent to laboratories for analysis, which can take days.
"This rapid test appears to be truly amazing, and it shows we can do this ourselves," said Sir John Bell, Oxford's Regius Professor of Medicine, who leads the Government's antibody testing programme.
“Tens of thousands of prototypes have already been manufactured at factories across the UK in anticipation of expected regulatory approval in the coming weeks.
“Ministers hope the AbC-19 lateral flow test will be available for use in a mass screening programme before the end of the year. The new tests have been developed by the UK Rapid Test Consortium (UK-RTC), a partnership between Oxford University and leading UK diagnostics firms including Abingdon Health, based in York.
“Dr Chris Hand, the leader of the UK-RTC and chairman of Abingdon Health, revealed that the new UK-made test passed its first major clinical trial last month, involving nearly 300 people and conducted by scientists at Ulster University.”