Today Public Health England (PHE) has issued a clarification that rapid point of care tests are different from those offered as part of testing for essential workers. The advice first issued on March 15th 2020 advising against the use of such ‘rapid’ tests in community pharmacy or at home remains in place.
PHE has said that some manufacturers are selling products containing COVID-19 testing kits that allow a swab or other type of sample to be taken at home or in the pharmacy setting, followed by a very rapid result within about 10 minutes.
In today’s update PHE have reiterated that these tests are different from the postal kits that are being used whereby the swab is taken by you at home and then returned by post or courier. (refer to essential worker testing for more information.)
The current view by PHE is that use of products that give a very rapid result is not advised.
PHE has said that some of these products look for virus while others look for the body’s immune response to the virus. Such tests are very rapid and can work on a range of specimens including serum, plasma or finger-prick whole blood.
It is the view of PHE that there is little information on the accuracy of these rapid point of care tests, or on how a patient’s antibody response develops or changes during COVID-19 infection. Their view is that it is not known whether either a positive or negative result is reliable.
They conclude by stating that currently there is no published evidence about the suitability of these rapid point of care tests for diagnosing COVID-19 infection in a community setting.
This circular is being shared under the Open Government Copyright licence.