PHE refuses to change guidance on rapid point-of-care antibody testing
Public Health England has stated that it will not change its policy around rapid point-of-care antibody testing, despite warnings from the SAGE committee. The organisation has decided not to change its advice against rapid COVID-19 antibody tests despite evidence provided to Government that these are performing well. The report on COVID-19 antibody testing, published on 17 July 2020, was presented to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) at its meeting on 2 July 2020. Evidence was presented that showed “some of the commercial [rapid point-of-care (POC) antibody] tests that have come to market more recently are performing well”.
14 tests have been assessed by the Government’s antibody testing study. PHE maintains that there will be a ‘substantial number’ of people whose results ‘will be called wrongly’. Legally, rapid POC antibody tests can be sold to members of the public, provided they are CE-marked. However, pharmacies/high street retailers are advised against doing so by both PHE and the General Pharmaceutical Council. The Department of Health and Social Care has stated that it is continuing to work with industry to identify further safe and accurate tests which may be used at home. Results are expected in late summer from a rapid POC antibody test study of 2,500 NHS volunteers recruited by MHRA, PHE and the DHSC.