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Pharmacists should not use rapid Covid-19 tests, PHE advises


By Isabel Shaw

16 Mar 2020

There is ‘no published evidence’ that rapid-result coronavirus testing kits are accurate, and they should not be used in community pharmacy, Public Health England has said.

Pharmadoctor recently brought to market its Covid-19 pharmacy testing kits for pharmacy teams to be able to check if they have contracted the virus.

They use a sample of blood from a finger prick test, with a result available in 10 minutes.

PHE’s guidance, published in response to such tests being made widely available, suggests that too little is known about the novel virus to yet be able to rely on the tests’ results.

The body said:

‘Some manufacturers are selling products for the diagnosis of COVID-19 infection in community settings, such as pharmacies.

‘The current view by PHE is that use of these products is not advised:

  • some of these products look for virus while others look for the body’s immune response to the virus. Such tests are very rapid and can work on a range of specimens including serum, plasma or finger-prick whole blood
  • there is little information on the accuracy of the tests, or on how a patient’s antibody response develops or changes during COVID-19 infection. It is not known whether either a positive or negative result is reliable
  • currently there is no published evidence about the suitability of these tests for diagnosing COVID-19 infection in a community setting.’

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