'17% Londoners, 5% of UK residents have COVID-19 antibodies'

New York state operates a drive-up coronavirus testing site at the Monroe Community College campus in Brighton

Ministers will attempt to recoup taxpayers' money spent on the fingerprick tests after an Oxford University trial found they returned inaccurate results.

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche and American rival Abbott Laboratories have each developed a test which can tell whether somebody has ever had the coronavirus.

The health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the deal had been agreed with Swiss drugmaker Roche (ROG.SW) and USA drugmaker Abbott (ABT) in the government's daily televised coronavirus briefing on Thursday.

Molecular tests are useful for understanding how many people have been infected with the virus, but they do not confirm whether a patient will be immune to future infection.

"PSNC remains in regular dialogue with NHS England and Improvement who we expect will be involved in planning any wider rollout of antibody testing", he added.

Britain said on Thursday it had agreed to acquire over 10 million coronavirus antibody tests from Roche and Abbott which would be rolled out to health and care workers from next week. The other searches for antibodies, which indicate whether a person was already exposed and fought the virus off.

The health secretary is speaking alongside England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and John Newton, professor of epidemiology and coordinator of the national testing effort. This will mean they can rapidly follow advice to stay at home if they test positive, or return to work.

A worker at the state-run coronavirus testing site at Monroe Community College's campus in Brighton directs a driver through the parking lot

The FDA named more than two dozen coronavirus antibody diagnostics it says should be taken off the market weeks after the agency closed its open-door policy on COVID-19 blood tests and required developers to submit their products and data for review.

Experts believe that while the presence of antibodies indicates a level of immunity, it is unclear whether people are completely protected and how long any immunity lasts.

In contrast to the widely used PCR tests, which need be processed at different temperatures, the loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) swab test does not require a change in temperature to detect results.

"This will enable health and care workers to carry on with their shift or immediately isolate on the same day, and could eventually offer the same benefit to the whole country", he added.

Separately, the health department announced that the trial of the new, rapid test to see whether people were carrying the virus had begun in Hampshire.

For care staff, the roll out will be phased across regions, with the Government and local leaders to decide the most appropriate places to start. At the time, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the test would be "as simple as a pregnancy test", and had the "potential to be a total gamechanger".

"We want to find out if it will be effective on a larger scale".

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