Roche said last week it would be able to provide hundreds of thousands of antibody tests a week to the UK, while Abbott said it was ready to ship “5m tests to the UK each month with immediate effect”.
Roche’s test must be carried out by a doctor. Some intermediaries have sold Abbott’s assay for self-use, though the company has stated it is only designed for use in a healthcare setting and should not be conducted at home. In both cases the blood is sent to a laboratory for evaluation.
These are different from self-administered finger prick antibody tests giving a result within minutes; ministers had hoped to roll these out to the general public weeks ago but they are not yet considered accurate enough.
Roche, which along with Abbott is among the biggest diagnostics makers worldwide, said the level of accuracy for its Sars-Cov-2 antibody test was high, and it was able to distinguish the antibodies from those for closely related coronaviruses, which have been known to produce positive results in tests made by other companies.