UK company racing to develop home-use coronavirus antibody tests for as low as $1.20

UK company racing to develop home-use coronavirus antibody tests for as low as $1.20
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A U.K. company is developing an antibody test intended to identify those who have had the coronavirus that could cost just $1.20, CNN reported.

British company Mologic has said it is currently developing a test that could take 10 minutes and be sent through the mail so that people can test themselves for antibodies to the coronavirus at home.

It's one of a number of antibody tests now starting to hit the market that promise to tell people whether they have already had the coronavirus and have developed antibodies to it.

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Antibody tests allow users to determine whether they possess an immune response to the virus.

There have been a number of warnings about these tests, which can sometimes lead to false results. 

NPR reported this week that it has yet to be demonstrated whether someone who has antibodies to the coronavirus in their blood is actually immune to the disease. 

NPR also reported the tests can be wrong much more frequently than promised.

The medical director of Mologic in the interview with CNN expressed confidence in the firm's ability to mass produce its tests. He also described the test as "well-functioning."

“The way we are approaching it at the moment is we have a well-functioning laboratory antibody test that is robust, that is validating this week and we can scale manufacture to high numbers,” Joe Fitchett, medical director of Mologic, told the outlet. 

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“We want to see light at the end of the tunnel, but we need to make sure that it’s not a headlight and that it is sunlight, and we will keep working on ensuring we get a good, reliable test that does more benefit than harm,” he continued. 

The company hopes to run hundreds of thousands of the tests this month and make the 10-minute testing kits within weeks. The home version of the test is estimated to cost $1.20.

Sanjeev Krishna, who has been validating the tests at St. George’s Hospital in London, said, “I’m very pleased with the results that we’ve seen so far. We have done quite a lot of work to ensure that the test does detect antibodies in those people who have definitely had the virus, and we’re now expanding those studies to look at and see how specific the test is.”

One challenge researchers are facing is ensuring that the test does not mistake other health problems for coronavirus. The test contains inert traces of coronavirus, and it will show a line when the antibodies in a patient’s blood react to it.

Mologic previously reported hoping to make the tests available as early as June.