Professor John Newton, national coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing programme, has cautioned against the purchase of unapproved antibody testing kits by organisations and individuals.

Professor Newton, who is the director of health improvement at the Public Health England, has warned that unapproved tests could be misleading, as they could provide inaccurate or inconsistent results, potentially putting those tested and those around them at risk.

“The government, supported by world-leading experts and regulators, is continuing to work hard to rapidly deliver a reliable and accurate back-to-work antibody testing kit, to counter the spread of the virus and enable people to return to work safely,” he said in a statement.

“We are breaking new ground with this work every day and I am confident this major research effort will make a breakthrough. Until then, please don’t buy or take any unproven tests. They may not be reliable for your intended use; they may give a false reading and put you, your family or others at risk”.

The statement follows reports of organisations seeking to purchase antibody tests for their employees, and individuals purchasing these tests online for personal use.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the government is currently working with several companies who are offering these tests and are evaluating their effectiveness. However, so far, the antibody tests that have gone through the validation process have not proven accurate enough to be rolled out for public use.

“In the meantime, I advise organisations, both in the public and private sector, against the use of antibody tests that have not been verified in a laboratory setting: and none have,” Professor Newton said.

Antibody tests offer hope for people wanting to find out if they have had coronavirus, and are now immune and get back to work. But so far no country in the world, including the UK, has found a reliable antibody test.

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