British officials spent $20 million on the novel coronavirus antibody tests, and it resulted as en epic failure. The two million testing kits were sold to the UK by two Chinese companies, and they were meant for home use.
With unproven technology and high upfront payment, the buyer needed to pick up the kits from China directly. The testing kits suppose to be available in pharmacies in two weeks and be simple to perform, “As simple as a pregnancy test,” according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The tests failed.
An Oxford lab tested the kits and concluded they are not sufficiently accurate, so most of them ended up in storage, while British officials wonder how to get at least some of the money back after the fiasco.
“There is a huge pressure on politicians to come out and say things that are positive.” Prof. Peter Openshaw of Imperial College London said after the embarrassing failure, while the Department of Health and Social Care’s spokesman said the government only bought the lowest possible number of testing kits allowed by the seller and will try to refund the money.
The two Chinese companies that offered the testing kits are AllTest Biotech and Wondfo Biotech, and both of these facilities said that their antibody tests meet the safety standards of the European Union.
Medical officials from the UK then visited these companies to make sure they really exist, and soon after getting there, sealed the deal. On their arrival back home, they came out with enthusiastic statements that these tests will help Britain stand out among the countries that most successfully combat the virus.
On March 25, Sharon Peacock, a professor of public health and microbiology at Cambridge University said that the tests would be easy to conduct at home, and will be available in the pharmacies, and on Amazon. According to her: “Testing the test is a small matter,”
After British officials complained to the Chinese companies about the inaccuracy of the antibody tests, Wondfo told that the British misunderstood the purpose of the tests and that they are actually made as supplementary tests for people that already tested positive for COVID-19.
Comparing coronavirus tests to pregnancy tests is misleading information by the government because, in reality, it’s not how they work, and the antibodies are only shown 20 days after the infection.