Dutch firm creates new coronavirus test that gives results in just 15 minutes

A Dutch firm has created a new coronavirus test that can give results in just 15 minutes in the same as a pregnancy stick.

Sensitest's blood test, manufactured in China, detects antibodies that signal the body is fighting the deadly infection.

It is not able to spot the virus in its early stages, but it can reveal if someone has already beaten the virus without showing symptoms.

The small company said it would be open to negotiate a deal with governments to supply tests for the masses. 

CEO Robert Das said a rapid diagnostic tool like this is 'desperately needed' to curb the global pandemic, as the number of cases reaches more than 400,000.

It follows increasing pressure on the UK Government to push rapid tests through the door and get more of the population swabbed.

Public Health England (PHE) is in the process of investigating tests on the market, but have not revealed which ones of the dozens emerging globally. 

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned today that Britain has lost track of the coronavirus crisis because of its controversial testing scheme to only test patients in hospital.

One million Britons will have caught the life-threatening infection by the end of next week, he predicts. Some 6,600 cases have officially been reported so far. 

A Dutch firm has created a new coronavirus test that can give results in just 15 minutes in the same fashion as a pregnancy stick as pressure grows on the UK government to test more people

A Dutch firm has created a new coronavirus test that can give results in just 15 minutes in the same as a pregnancy stick as pressure grows on the UK government to test more people

Sensitest's blood test, manufactured in China, detects antibodies that signal the body is fighting the deadly infection. It shows results like a pregnancy test

Sensitest's blood test, manufactured in China, detects antibodies that signal the body is fighting the deadly infection. It shows results like a pregnancy test

In Britain routine tests are only given to people so ill they have to go into hospital, or those who are already on wards.

It means only 5,000 patients are tested for the deadly virus each day in the UK, a fraction of the numbers tested in other countries. 

Even NHS staff, who are treating COVID-19 patients, don't get tested.

The Government have promised to ramp up its daily capacity to 25,000, which will prioritise health workers first.

That means thousands are expected to be infected who will never get an official diagnosis.

Sensitest Corona Rapid test can show on the spot whether a patient has produced antibodies against the COVID-19 virus using a small sample of blood. 

Within 15 minutes, it shows whether a person's body has produced antibodies IgM and IgG, which would signal they are battling the coronavirus, even if they do not have symptoms.   

CEO Mr Das told MailOnline: 'It's just like a pregnancy test. When you test too early it will be negative.

'As soon as you produce enough antibodies, it will give a positive result within 15 minutes.

Sensitest Corona Rapid test can show on the spot whether a patient produces antibodies against the COVID-19 virus using a small sample of blood

Sensitest Corona Rapid test can show on the spot whether a patient produces antibodies against the COVID-19 virus using a small sample of blood

The test result can be read after 15 minutes. The result is positive for two lines in the test window, and negative for one line. The result is not pictured in this test

The test result can be read after 15 minutes. The result is positive for two lines in the test window, and negative for one line. The result is not pictured in this test

'The test will also give a positive result after the virus has gone and you have recovered, because your body will still be protected by IgG.'

HOW DOES THE DUTCH TEST WORK? 

Sensitest Corona Rapid test can show if someone has coronavirus within 15 minutes.

It may not work in the very early stages of the disease, the CEO admitted. 

Blood is collected and dropped onto a cassette. Then, two or three drops of a buffer liquid are added using a pipette. 

The test result can be read after 15 minutes. The result is positive for two lines in the test window, and negative for one line.

The product can only be used by doctors, and is not ideal for patients to use on themselves. 

Tests like this look at whether someone's immune system is equipped to fight a specific disease or infection.

When someone gets infected with a virus their immune system must work out how to fight it off and produce substances called antibodies.

These are extremely specific and are usually only able to tackle one strain of one virus. They are produced in a way which makes them able to latch onto that specific virus and destroy it.

For example, if someone catches COVID-19, they will develop COVID-19 antibodies for their body to use to fight it off.

The body then stores versions of these antibodies in the immune system so that if it comes into contact with that same virus again it will be able to fight it off straight away and probably avoid someone feeling any symptoms at all.

To test for these antibodies, medics or scientists can take a fluid sample from someone - usually blood - and mix it with part of the virus to see if there is a reaction between the two.

If there is a reaction, it means someone has the antibodies and their body knows how to fight off the infection - they are immune. If there is no reaction it means they have not had it yet.

Mr Das said the test, which became available only last week, is currently being bought privately by doctors across the Netherlands.

The situation in Holland reflects that of the UK - 5,578 cases have been reported and 277 deaths.

Mr Das said: 'In Holland, we are distributing the test among doctors all over the country especially in the east where concentrations of patients are. 

'We are getting calls from physicians all day, especially in areas where they say there are not enough tests available.

'We can supply thousands of these tests, but not millions. We would need government support. 

'I would definitely be open to that and say let's start to negotiate. I think this product is very important for us at the moment. We need it, desperately.' 

Mr Das was not able to provide the accuracy result for the blood test, but said the manufacturers - who also make the company's pregnancy tests - have a 'good reputation'. 

Public Health England declined to comment on which commercial tests it is looking into as a viable option to use on the general population. 

As the coronavirus crisis escalates day by day in the UK, the Government continue to use a testing method which takes two days to produce a result. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson his aides have repeatedly defended the testing regime amid backlash over their efforts.

Initially the plan was to test anyone with symptoms or who had contact with a positive case. But as the outbreak worsened in February, the strategy shelved.

Now, people who believe they have the illness are urged to self-isolate unless their conditions became so severe they need medical help, at which point they will be tested.

It means health chiefs don't know the true scale of the coronavirus epidemic in the UK. 

Today the former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt slammed the testing scheme in the UK - which is almost impossible for lay people to access.  

Mr Hunt, who was the longest serving Health Secretary before Matt Hancock took over in 2018, told MPs: 'All our public focus has on social distancing. 

'But testing and contact tracing to break the chain of transmission is every bit as important if not more important.

'South Korea avoided national lockdown despite having a worse outbreak initially than us. 

'Taiwan introduced temperature scanning in malls and office buildings but kept shops and restaurants open, they've had just two deaths.

'In Singapore restaurants remain open and schools reopening.

'But 10 days ago in this country we went in the opposite direction and stopped testing in the community. 

Mr Hunt added: 'How can we possibly suppress the virus if we don't know where it is?' 

Mr Hunt noted that testing had not been increased in the past week despite repeated promises.

He said: 'The concern is that we appear to be testing on a daily basis virtually no more people than over a week ago when the commitment was to increase the daily amount of tests from 5,000 to 25,000 tests.'

In response, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed 'millions' of tests had been purchased - but he could not say when the public would be able to access them or how.

He said: 'We are in the middle of buying the tests that are needed and especially the new tests that have just come on stream.

'We have now purchased millions of these tests which are arriving in the next days and weeks.' 

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has also called for an overhaul on the testing strategy. 

More testing was needed, he said, adding: 'On this side of the House we have called for testing for the virus to be carried out within our communities on a mass scale starting with NHS and care staff as a priority. 

'We urge the Government to rapidly scale up testing.

'I'm told that many labs at hospitals haven't been able to start testing or are currently testing at under planned capacity because of supply chain issues with the relevant chemicals that are used and the kits to do the testing. 

'If this is the case, could the Government update the House on what they are doing to urgently procure the testing kits we need?' 

Today it's been claimed that a desperate appeal to research labs was made by Mr Johnson to lend the government coronavirus testing kit. 

According to Politico, a Downing Street aide sent a message to research institutes on Sunday asking to borrow expensive equipment currently needed to carry out tests.

'We urgently need to scale up testing. There is only a limited supply of these machines, so the PM is making an urgent appeal for you to lend us your machine(s) for the duration of the crisis,' the email reportedly said.

'We will meet all expenses and assume all liabilities and requirements associated with the use of these machines for this purpose. We undertake to return or replace the equipment when the emergency is over. We would very much like to collect any machines you have tomorrow (Mon 23) or Tuesday. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and other experts have warned that mass checks are crucial for keeping the spread of the killer disease under control. 

BioMedomics claims its test can screen for coronavirus in 15 minutes using a small drop of blood and a tiny device that can be carried into the field

BioMedomics claims its test can screen for coronavirus in 15 minutes using a small drop of blood and a tiny device that can be carried into the field

Test by test: The types of coronavirus kits from 10-minute finger-prick results to a mask which can diagnose instantly that the government could be using amid row over shortage – as PM brands impending antibody check a 'game changer'

GOVERNMENT IS WORKING WITH FIRM TO MAKE AN ANTIBODY AND ANTIGEN TEST 

The UK Government is working with the inventors of the home pregnancy test to develop a coronavirus testing kit in Britain and Senegal.

Mologic was granted £1million to produce two different types of test which reveal if someone has ever had the deadly virus in the past. 

The kits – one will look for antigens in spit, the other will scour blood for antibodies – could also tell if a person currently has the infection. 

But the company, who laboratory in Bedfordshire was visited by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this month, estimates it will be up to six months before Brits can use them.

Antibody tests check to see if the body has substances in the immune system which are created when it comes into contact with the virus for the first time.

They could be a game-changer for the UK and allow health officials to work out when people are safe because they've already had COVID-19.  

However, the tests can't accurately tell if a patient is currently infected, unlike swab tests – which take much longer to get a result. 

If a test comes back positive and they have a cough or fever, it suggests the patient is currently infected – but many patients only suffer mild symptoms. 

Mologic is also working on an antigen test. The firm hopes it will take just 10 minutes to produce a result, like that of the antibody test. 

Antigens are parts of a virus that trigger the immune system's response to fight the infection, and can show up in blood before antibodies are made.  

Boris Johnson yesterday announced that coronavirus testing was to be ramped up to 25,000 per day after the government was slammed for potentially allowing tens of thousands of infected people to walk the streets undiagnosed.

Only 5,000 were being swabbed for COVID-19 previously, a fraction of the number seen elsewhere. 

Mr Johnson said a new 'game changing' coronavirus test which analyses antibodies in the blood could detect asymptomatic patients and those who have already shrugged off the bug. 

The Prime Minister said this would allow people to know whether they had gained immunity and get back to their working and social lives as soon as possible.   

Public Health England previously said that only patients who meet certain criteria will be able to be tested for the bug and those who were being screened were having nasal swabs. 

The Prime Minister conceded that the NHS will continue to use nasal swab tests that take up to 48 hours to be analysed in a lab.  

Other countries around the world - including the US, China, South Korea, Japan and - have been using testing kits that take just minutes to produce results. 

And in a further development, Oxford University researchers claimed that they have created a new test which analyses viral RNA to detect COVID-19 in just 30 minutes.

Here, MailOnline looks at the cutting-edge testing kits currently being rolled out in other counties and at private clinics in Britain: 

FINGER PRINT TEST

Name: COVID-19 IgM IgG Rapid Test

Manufacturers: BioMedomics

Diagnostic time: 15 minutes 

The blood test is not being used in the UK, despite health bodies in China, and Japan diagnosing patients with it.

On March 5, BioMedomics claimed its 'quick and easy' test was ready and being used in South Korea, Japan, , China and some countries in the Middle East. 

After the sample of blood is collected, a technician injects it into the analysis device - which is about the size of an Apple TV or Roku

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