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New 20-minute coronavirus check being trialled as Matt Hancock unveils contract for 10m antibody tests

Matt Hancock gave an update on both types of coronavirus testing (PA)

2 min read

A new test for coronavirus which gives a result in just 20 minutes is being trialled in the UK, Matt Hancock has announced.

The Health Secretary also revealed the Government has signed contracts to supply 10 million antibody tests to be rolled out from next week.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing he said a surveillance study suggested 17% of people in London have had Covid-19.

That is more than three-times higher than the figure of around 5% for the rest of the population.

Mr Hancock also gave an update on both types of test available for the disease, those which reveal if a person currently has it, and those which show if a person has previously been infected.

On the former the Cabinet minister said a new 20-minute swab test will be trialled in Hampshire for six weeks, with up to 4,000 people checked.

He said it was "interesting to us because it is so fast”, and could prove vital as part of the Government’s upcoming test, track and trace system. 

Adding: "We want to find out if it will be effective on a larger scale. If it works, we'll roll it out as soon as we can.”

On the latter, known as antibody tests, the Health Secretary warned: “We are not yet in a position to say that those who test positive in these antibody tests are immune from coronavirus.”

But after some early tests had not proved reliable, two new ones “have been given a positive evaluation by Public Health England”.

“And I can announce today that we have signed contracts to supply in the coming months, over 10 million tests from Roche and Abbott,” he added.

“From next week, we will begin rolling these out in a phased way. At first to health and care staff, patients and residents.

"The UK Government has arranged supplies of these tests on behalf of the devolved administrations and each devolved nation is deciding how to use its test allocation and how testing will be prioritised and managed locally.

"This is an important milestone and it represents further progress in our national testing programme.”

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