Superdrug first retailer to launch Covid-19 antibody tests
20 May 2020, 10:22 | Updated: 20 May 2020, 11:58
High Street chemist Superdrug has announced it will be the first retailer to sell a Covid-19 antibody test via its Online Doctor Service.
The blood test detects antibodies in patients who have been exposed to the virus, even if they never developed symptoms.
The chemist said its test has a sensitivity of 97.5%. This means that it will detect positive antibodies 97.5% of the time. But warned, a small number of previous infections might go undetected.
The Government has also announced a new coronavirus antibody test developed by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, which is currently being tested by Public Health England.
Previously Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called antibody testing a "game-changer" as it could help ease lockdown restrictions sooner.
Superdrug will be offering the tests for sale from Wednesday via their website. The brand said the move comes after their test was found to be "accurate and reliable."
All of the components of the home sampling test kits are CE marked and the test is run by a UKAS-accredited laboratory.
Dr Zor Williams, Superdrug's doctor ambassador, Dr Zoe Williams said: “ There are however things to consider before taking it. 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.”
Michael Henry, Superdrug’s Healthcare Director said: “We’re launching a Covid-19 antibody test because we’re confident of its accuracy and reliability. The Public Health England approved test is an accessible way for people to know whether they have already been infected with COVID-19. The test will only be available online via our online doctor service and will not be available in our stores.”
What is the antibody test?
This is a blood test that looks for antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the coronavirus that causes Covid-19). It 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.
The retailer says the test is available to anyone over the age of 18. But warned that if people have recently started to have symptoms they should wait 14 days because that is how long it takes for antibodies to develop.
How does the Covid-19 antibody test work?
A blood sampling kit is sent in the post. There are detailed instructions about how to carry it out with a simple finger prick using a lancet (similar to how diabetics test their sugar levels).
The chemist said a few drops of blood need to be collected into a small vial, secured in the packaging and posted to the UKAS-accredited lab using the pre-paid packaging.
The results are then available from Superdrug Online Doctor within 24 hours of the sample reaching the lab.
The Covid-19 Antibody Blood Test costs £69 and is available online.