The UK has given approval to US drugmaker Abbott Laboratories to produce a coronavirus antibody test, Public Health England said today.
Public health authorities had previously given the green light to Switzerland’s Roche to make a coronavirus antibody test.
Mass antibody testing is being considered by many countries as a way to help escape from lockdown and to support track-and-trace approaches to containing coronavirus.
An antibody test is a blood test that can tell whether somebody has had coronavirus, even if they have recovered.
Previously, antibody tests have been unreliable. The UK bought 3.5m finger-prick tests that could not be used because they were inaccurate.
Currently, the UK uses swab testing which can only tell whether someone has the virus at the time of the test.
Mike Clayton, Abbott’s managing director for northern Europe diagnostics, said: “Abbott has been focused on bringing covid-19 tests to market as quickly as possible to help address this pandemic.
“We are proud to be able to provide our antibody tests immediately as they will help understand who has had the virus, leading to greater confidence as we get back to living life. We are collaborating with the NHS, public health bodies and private laboratories across the UK to enable this test to be used here.”
Abbott said it is significantly scaling up its European manufacturing for antibody testing.
The drugmaker said it was already shipping its antibody test and said it aimed to provide millions of tests across Europe by the end of May.