Thousands of home tests for coronavirus are to be available to the NHS and wider public within days, according to Public Health England (PHE).

Sharon Peacock, the director of the national infection service at PHE, told MPs on the science and technology committee that mass testing in the UK would be possible by next week.

The 15-minute test kits will be delivered by Amazon to people self-isolating with symptoms or will go on sale on the high street within days, she added. 

Amazon has already agreed to carry out distribution and the tests will also go on sale in chemist shops.

The UK government has bought 3.5 million tests which prick the finger to produce a drop of blood, which is then analysed by the device.

The Guardian has described the widespread availability of a finger prick test that produces results in 10 to 15 minutes as a “game-changer” as NHS working on the front line will now be able to access a test that immediately tells them whether they have – or have recovered from – Covid-19, enabling them to get back to work sooner.

In addition, members of the public will be able to know if they have had the virus and are therefore immune, which means they could go back to work and resume their normal lives quicker than previously thought. 

Peacock said: “Several million tests have been purchased for use. These are brand new products. We have to be clear they work as they are claimed to do. Once they have been tested this week and the bulk of tests arrive, they will be distributed into the community

Date published: March 25, 2020

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