// Superdrug becomes first retailer to offer DIY kit to test for Covid-19 antibodies.
// It costs £69 and users need to take a blood sample at home which is sent off for testing
// Superdrug said it was “confident” in the accuracy and reliability of the test but experts have expressed caution
Superdrug has become the first high street retailer to offer a DIY kit to test for Covid-19 antibodies.
The testing kit costs £69 and users need to take a blood sample at home which is sent off to an accredited laboratory for testing.
However, some experts have urged caution over the test, with one saying that antibody tests for Covid-19 are “good for satisfying people’s curiosity but no more”.
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People who use the test will need to take a finger prick blood sample at home and then post the sample off to a lab.
Results are posted through Superdrug’s Online Doctor portal 24 hours after reaching the lab.
Superdrug said it was “confident” in the accuracy and reliability of the test.
The health and beauty retailer said that the test detects the IgG, which is the protein that develops after infection. If positive, it means that the person tested had the virus at some point.
Those who have recently developed symptoms should not take the test until at least 14 days as the antibodies may not be apparent before that point, the retailer added.
Superdrug said the test has a sensitivity of 97.5 per cent, which means that it would detect positive antibodies 97.5 per cent of the time.
It also said the test has a specificity of 100 per cent, which means that a positive result is specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus – the novel coronavirus which causes the Covid-19 disease.
However, the science behind the level of protection provided by antibodies is still in its early stages – the virus has not been around long enough to know what level of protection any antibodies give.
“Receiving a positive antibody test result does not confer immunity, and it is important that people understand a positive test result does not mean you can be any more relaxed with the required hygiene and social distancing measures as set out by the government,” Superdrug’s doctor ambassador Dr Zoe Williams said.
University of Reading’s associate professor in cellular microbiology Dr Simon Clarke said: “When someone falls ill with Covid-19, their immune system generates a range of antibodies which recognise various bits of the coronavirus.
“It’s not yet known which, if any, of these protect us against subsequent infection, but having these antibodies is a reliable way of confirming that someone has been infected previously.
“Their presence does not indicate that someone is immune and it should be remembered that any post-infection immunity may dwindle rapidly.
“These tests are good for satisfying people’s curiosity, but no more. We just don’t know enough about what it takes to make someone immune to Covid-19 to accurately test people.”
Professor Gino Martini, chief scientific officer at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “Any antibody test at present can only provide a partial picture. The real issue is that no-one knows the level of immunity that is conferred by having antibodies to coronavirus, how long it might last, and if you can become re-infected.
“We need much more information and data on immunity before we can understand the importance of having antibodies to the virus.”
Previously, experts urged consumers to check the specificity and sensitivity of any tests to ensure they are accurate at detecting antibodies for the novel coronavirus.
with PA Wires