10,000 kits to test islanders’ immunity to covid-19 have arrived in Jersey - and are now being examined for their reliability.
Such tests have been described as a "game changer" across the globe, as they help to establish who has already had the virus and can therefore return to work and contribute to the economy.
Health officials say that the kits will now be put through a thorough examination process to ensure that their results are reliable, which will take seven to ten days.
If their accuracy is proven, more kits will be ordered to support an island-wide testing programme, which will firstly be rolled out to essential frontline workers before the general public.
Pictured: The process for extending immunity tests. (Government of Jersey)
Medical Officer for Health Dr Ivan Muscat described the kits as an "important weapon in our fight against covid-19".
Elaborating on the process to acquire the kits, he added: “We are living in extraordinary times and there is immense global pressure to get an idea of immunity within populations. While we have sourced the test kits through a robust process, which included evidence of validation through an independent review system, we first need to undertake a rapid local assessment of the accuracy of the test. Following a satisfactory outcome, we can then use these as part of our plan for an Island-wide testing programme. This will help us determine the pattern of infection across the Island.
“The accuracy of future tests will improve, enabling us to measure immunity even more accurately.”
The 10,000 kits come in addition to 150,000 already on order by Jersey's government and due to arrive in batches of 50,000.
The tests will involve checking islanders' blood, and are carried out by a pinprick undertaken by trained staff.
News of the tests' arrival comes after concerns were raised by the UK's testing chief about the accuracy of current antibody tests available. He said they were only able to identify immunity accurately in people who had been severely ill, while officials said a test meeting the desired accuracy criteria could be at least a month away.
When Express asked Director General for Health, Caroline Landon, about this, she did not confirm the supplier of the batch of 150,000 heading to Jersey or confirm whether health bosses remained confident in their accuracy, but replied: "Our Public Health team are working hard to source the best testing kit for Jersey. They are trying to access different suppliers in order to ensure that we have a resilient process in place in order to be able to best as many islanders as we can."
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