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Middlesbrough Leads The Way With Covid Blood Test

By Published June 22, 2020

MIDDLESBROUGH is at the front of the queue for a coronavirus blood test that could "transform" understanding of the disease, saving lives and jobs in the town.

Mayor Andy Preston is poised to order thousands of the pin-prick tests that can show whether someone is infected with Covid-19 or has been in the past by the accurate measurement of antibodies.

Middlesbrough Council would use the tests in conjunction with a temperature screening programme due to begin next month.

The test, which provides a result in around 10 minutes, is awaiting its formal approval in the UK.

Mr Preston said the Council was ready to order "several thousand" kits as soon as clearance is given.

The Mayor said: "This is really exciting and has the potential to save lives and jobs across Middlesbrough.

"We're not prepared to sit on our hands and wait for others to intervene.

"The Council will order several thousand tests as soon as they're accredited."

The Vaxeal Lyher Combo Test Kit is already in use in countries including China, America and Australia and is distributed in the UK and other countries by Vaxeal Health. 

Middlesbrough Council Chief Executive Tony Parkinson said: "Testing and identifying people who have the virus as early as possible is essential if we are to get ahead of Covid-19.

"The test is much simpler than the one in use nationally and once certified for use it will provide much quicker access to the information needed."

Analysis in an NHS pathology lab has confirmed the test results already attained in previous extensive tests of over 700-plus specimens and showed the kit accurately recorded over 96% of positive tests and 99% of negative tests. The United States FDA's EUA Authorized Serology Test also matched these results.

Mr Preston was contacted by former Government minister Rob Wilson following a series of national media appearances where the Mayor discussed the town's high infection rate and the Council's pro-active approach.

Mr Wilson, formerly the Conservative MP for Reading, has been involved with research into a number of tests and best of breed products since the outbreak began and believes the product that could be used in Middlesbrough is "unquestionably as good as anything currently available".

The test is now awaiting formal approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and already has the CE Certificate of the EU and is certified by the FDA in the US. 

Mr Preston added: "Rob Wilson got in touch after hearing me speak on Radio 4. He shares my determination to act decisively so we can properly understand this virus.

"The more people are tested, the better our understanding of Covid becomes and we can protect people's health and protect jobs."

The Council's voluntary temperature screening programme will see people have their temperature taken in areas of high footfall such as outside supermarkets.

Once the pin-prick Covid-19 kit is available, anyone whose temperature is recorded as high would be encouraged to have a blood sample taken and would get a result within around 10 minutes.

The rapid turnaround would increase the likelihood of someone with the virus isolating immediately and therefore reduce the chances of transmission.

Mr Wilson said: "The Vaxeal Lyher Combo Test can tell us how deep coronavirus has penetrated into a local community.

"Whether huge numbers of people are tested or it's used to sample test the population, it will tell us just how prevalent coronavirus has been.

"As Tony Blair and William Hague have said, this is what we need now across the country.

"We need to understand how far it's penetrated and who's got the virus now. It can help control the spread of the illness and help our understanding as to whether people have resistance or can contract it again.

"If this is used regularly throughout communities it could be transformational in our understanding.

"I've been really impressed with Mayor Preston's desire to lead and make sure that Middlesbrough is at the forefront of testing and giving people the reassurance so that they can get back to their normal lives as soon as it is safe."

For information on local help and support, visit Help Boro at www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/helpboro or call Middlesbrough Council's support line 01642 729777

The latest advice from Government and Public Health England can be found at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus  

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