IN a matter of days we could start seeing new tests for coronavirus available for delivery from places such as Amazon and Boots.

Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that the UK Government has ordered a large quantity of antibody tests which will indicate if a person has had Covid-19 regardless of their symptoms. 

The test will be able to detect those who have recovered from it and now have immune systems ready to stop re-infection. 

This is important because it could allow people to come out of isolation meaning they could take part in the national effort to help people currently experiencing symptoms.

Jendrick said "millions" of the test have been ordered and said that they would be available in "the coming weeks". 

However, the director of the National Infection Service, Professor Sharon Peacock, has said that the tests could be available at places like Boots within days "not weeks or months".

How does the test work?

The test resembles a pregnancy test but involves pricking a finger to obtain a small drop of blood. 

The blood can then be analysed by the test, to see whether the individual's immune system has already cleared the infection.

It is currently being validated by Oxford University this week.

The National: It will be similar to other finger prick tests and take 15 minutes for a resultIt will be similar to other finger prick tests and take 15 minutes for a result

Peacock said: “Several million tests have been purchased for use. These are brand new products. We have to be clear they work as they are claimed to do."

The test itself is an antibody test – also called a serology test – which detects for antibodies specific to Covid-19. Once a person has had the virus, their bodies respond by remembering its biological "fingerprint", and produce antibodies which can help the person's immune system to tackle the virus. 

If a person has the antibodies, it is a good indicator that they have had the virus and their immune system has since cleared it out of their body.

It is similar to vaccinations where people are deliberately given tiny doses of deactivated viruses so their bodies can detect them and produce the antibodies – which will protect them from further infection.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We expect people not to be able to catch it, except in very exceptional circumstances, for a second time.”

The new test is not designed to replace the current one, instead it will work alongside it to provide the extra information needed to assess a person's current condition and immunity.

Why is it such a big deal?

Once people are demonstrated to be clear of the virus, it means that they are highly unlikely to develop the symptoms again and their bodies will be actively preventing future infection. 

This is essential information for key workers, who can then proceed to work safely in hospitals. 

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It also will present a large dataset which will help scientists understand how the virus is spreading across the population, and crucially, how the development of resistance to the virus progresses among people.

Professor Trudie Lang, director of the Global Health Network, University of Oxford, said: “This test shows if you’ve cleared the virus and that’s going to be really important for looking at how immunity is changing across the population and helping us track how the virus is passing.”

How will it be distributed?

It is unclear as of yet exactly how it will be distributed, however, the Government has already got orders in place. 

It is likely that the tests will be available at points of care, such as pharmacies and shops like Boots and could even be available via delivery from large retailers such as Amazon.