EXCLUSIVE: 10,000 test kits for Covid immunity have arrived

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A DELIVERY of 10,000 antibody testing kits for coronavirus has arrived in Jersey which the government hopes could be used as part of an Islandwide testing programme.

The tests, which will now be assessed for reliability, can detect the presence of antibodies produced as part of the body’s response to the Covid-19 virus.

It is believed that antibody tests can detect whether a patient has had Covid-19 and therefore whether they have evidence of immunity to it..

The kits were sourced by the government after it was put in contact with the supplier, a wealthy businessman, by Islanders Fraser McInnes and JEP journalist Ian Heath.

The reliability testing is due to take seven to ten days and once the kits are confirmed as offering solid results, they will be used to support an Islandwide testing programme with further kits to be ordered as necessary.

Another 40,000 of the kits, which were manufactured by Healthgen, have been made available for the Government of Jersey to purchase should it want them.

Dr Ivan Muscat, medical officer for health, said: ‘Antibody testing kits are an important weapon in our fight against Covid-19. With such a high global demand for these kits, we are pleased that our first batch has arrived.

‘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 Islandwide 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 government has previously announced that it has bought a further 150,000 kits from a UK supplier, separate to this order, which are also due to arrive in the Island this month.

The first batch of the 50,000 UK-sourced kits was meant to arrive mid-April.

Unanswered questions the JEP has put to the government over the newly arrived kits:

– Could you confirm that these kits are FDA- and EU-approved?

–Are they the same kits that the UK is using, which have been the subject of some negative media coverage? If not, are they better than the UK kits? Where have these kits been used?

– I understand that you have been offered high-level scientific advice to develop a testing strategy and administer the kits by the supplier. Is that correct and, if so, will the GoJ be taking up the offer?

– Where will this put Jersey in terms of testing strategy – will we be ahead of most places in the world?

– When will mass-testing start? Who will be prioritised and what will the strategy be? Could we be used a model for other places to follow?

– Will you be developing an ongoing relationship with the supplier? If so, what additional equipment can Jersey expect to receive and when?

– What impact are these developments going to have on Jersey’s broader coronavirus strategy? Can we expect to come out of lockdown quicker? Will things return to normal sooner? And will this help reopen our economy and bring about the recovery that businesses need earlier?

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