THE GOVERNMENT has ordered 50million new coronavirus immunity tests that are hoped to be a “game-changing” development in the fight against the pandemic.
It is hoped the breakthrough by a team of British scientists will allow people to work out if they are safe from the virus when the pinprick tests are rolled out in June.
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The tests are expected to cost £10 and will require blood sample.
It then displays immunity like a pregnancy test, with two lines appearing after a 20 minute wait letting you know you have antibodies.
It is hoped one million of the tests could be produced a week by the summer to help get Britain moving again.
Government plans would see the user taking a picture of the test result and sending it to a command unit which would log the result in a database.
Health officials will then be able to develop a more complete picture of how safe Britain is from the virus until a vaccine is finally developed.
Scientists at Oxford University, working for the Government-backed Rapid Testing Consortium, are behind the breakthrough.
A source said: “This could be the game changer – a breakthrough moment to help us turn the tide on the virus.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is heading back to work on Monday after overcoming his own life or death battle with coronavirus.
He is said to be “raring to go” and is “tightening his grip”, with an insider saying adding: “You are going to see much greater clarity, energy and purpose now.”
The Government is expected to buy up the first wave of new tests for use with key workers.
Health minister Lord Bethell said: “This is a great story of how our manufacturers are stepping up to the challenge of Covid, and I am hopeful that their product will make an impact in our battle against this terrible disease.”
Treasury officials are also drawing up plans to get Britain back to Work in May in “coronavirus-secure” offices.
Consortium leader Jonathan Allis said: “We are close to picking up 100 per cent of all cases where people have antibodies.
“Now it is just a question of scaling up the manufacturing process.”
Ministers have however been cricitised so far for failing to reach their current test target of 100,000 a day – so sceptisim will loom over the new plan.
And the new test announcement comes just one day the World Health Organisation (WHO) said there was no evidence having coronavirus made you immune to a second dose.
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WHO warned coronavirus immunity passports could make the pandemic worse as patients who had recovered once could ignore health advice.
It cautioned that inaccurate tests could falsely categorise people – having “serious consequences” when it came to the control of the virus.
In a statement, the UN agency said: “People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice.
“The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission.”
Britain hit a grim milestone today of 20,000 confirmed deaths, while the world total also surpassed 200,000.
Ministers are fearing Britain is beginning to crack under lockdown, with reports of increases in traffic and footfall during the hot weather.
Government officials are reportedly looking at easing strict “stay at home” rules in favour of creating groups of people known as “clusters” or “bubbles”.
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