Government signs contract for supply of COVID-19 antibody tests
The UK Government has entered into a contract with Abingdon Health, on behalf of the UK-Rapid Test Consortium (“UK-RTC”), for the supply of the AbC-19 Rapid Antibody tests.
As part of the contract the UK Government has placed its first order for one million COVID-19 rapid antibody tests. This follows an independent evaluation commissioned by the UK government of the AbC-19 Rapid Antibody test, which will be published in full in due course by PHE, after peer review.
The “AbC-19 Rapid Test” uses a small drop of blood from a finger-prick, and shows results in 20 minutes, without the need to go to a specialised laboratory. The test can be administered by healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and healthcare workers, at the point-of-care. It has already received the “CE mark”, which indicates health and safety conformity for goods sold in the UK and EU. The test will make it possible to build a swift and clear picture of how the virus has spread throughout the UK population.
It will also be able to help establish the effectiveness of any vaccine which provides protection by creating new antibodies. This information will be critical to managing current and future outbreaks of COVID-19.
Mass production is already under way. The antibody test will be rolled out under the Government’s COVID-19 surveillance studies to help build a picture of how the virus has spread across the country. Surveillance studies are vital to develop our understanding of how antibodies work.
Abingdon Health CEO Chris Yates said: “Our test will help give a picture of how many people in the UK have antibodies. This will be a crucial part of the understanding of immunity to COVID-19.
“Mass testing will also help understand what the longevity of immunity is and, in time, help assess the efficiency of any vaccine on the market. In this respect, high-quality mass antibody testing has never been more important, and it will be critical for future public health responses.
“The UK Government order of the first one million tests is an endorsement of this UK designed, developed and manufactured high-quality rapid diagnostic test. It is a triumph of British business and a breakthrough for UK life sciences. We have ramped up production since the start of August and will be ready to deliver the first tests to the Government by early October.”
The UK Government helped to set up the UK Rapid Test Consortium and invested in the development of the tests.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “This home antibody test developed by our outstanding British scientists and researchers at the UK Rapid Test Consortium will provide critical insight into how the infection has spread, growing our understanding of coronavirus so that we can better respond to it.”
Abingdon Health has fast-tracked development and manufactured the test in weeks. This process would normally take 10 months or more. The antibody test has been developed for the Department of Health and Social Care in response to the Government’s need to procure a high-quality antibody test.
To develop and mass produce the volumes needed for the UK population, Abingdon Health set up and led the UK-RTC in April this year. The consortium brings together the UK’s largest rapid test medical manufacturers, working together to provide capacity for delivery of more than a million tests per week.
The test detects IgG antibodies to “full trimeric spike proteins” of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This means the test detects those antibodies which interfere with the virus’s ability to enter the human cells. An extensive validation study performed by Ulster University involving over 1000 participant blood samples is currently under peer review for publication.