The Health Minister Edward Argar said the government are not in a position to roll out the new antibody tests developed by Roche to the public.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Argar said, “It has only just got the green light.
“Obviously, we will have had kits to test, but we are not in a position at this point to give these tests out.”
He added, “So we’re not in a position yet to roll it out to the public and have those tests ready to go.”
Argar said he want the new tests to be rolled out on frontline workers first, then the wider public, which will be vital in getting the UK our of lockdown.
He told the BBC, “We’re in discussion at the moment with Roche on this.
“It’s only just gone through the Public Health England (PHE) assessment as being reliable, as doing the job, and therefore we are having those discussions.
“But we are keen to get as many as quickly as we can and get them out, primarily to the front line first, the NHS, social care and then more widely.
“Because this really will be, as the Prime Minister said, this has the potential to be a game-changer.”
He added, “There is still some capacity there that we need to put in… make available, I should say, to care homes to make sure everyone can access it quickly.
“To make sure they get their results back quickly, so they know when they have someone who didn’t test negative, that’s fine.
“Or when they have someone who has tested positive, they know to use that… if they are accepting a discharge back to the care home, they know to put in place those isolation rules and those isolation procedures.”
“Last week, scientific experts at PHE Porton Down carried out an independent evaluation of the new Roche Sars-CoV-2 serology assay in record time, concluding that it is a highly specific assay with specificity of 100%.
“This is a very positive development because such a highly specific antibody test is a very reliable marker of past infection.
“This in turn may indicate some immunity to future infection although the extent to which the presence of anti-bodies indicates immunity remains unclear.”