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MHRA raises concerns over fraudulent coronavirus tests

As Amazon and Boots partner on at-home testing kits

Coronavirus

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has warned that unlicensed and unsafe coronavirus tests could flood the market as fraudsters seek to cash-in on the pandemic.

The warning comes as online retailer Amazon partnered with UK health and beauty retailer Boots on home test for the coronavirus, which could be accessible online and delivered straight to customers within weeks.

The tests, which work by pricking the user’s finger for blood, identify if there are COVID-19 antibodies present in the body. The results are rapid – taking only 15 minutes – and a positive results indicates that a person has had the coronavirus and recovered, in theory.

“The UK government has at present ordered 3.5 million of the tests, and is currently validating their accuracy before they are made available to members of the NHS and the public. It is not yet clear exactly when this will be,” said Lucy Ingham, technology editor at Verdict.

However, the MHRA has said it is working to investigate a significant number of potential scams involving fraudulent coronavirus testing-kits, and has presented concerns that the marketing of self-test kits may exacerbate these scams.

The MHRA is “very concerned that there will be [unlicensed COVID-19] tests marketed to the public illegally, as there is a demand for them”, said Doris-Ann Williams, chief executive of the British In Vitro Diagnostic Association.

The UK government has faced criticism over allegedly causing confusion over its promises to provide wide-scale finger-prick COVID-19 antibody self-testing kits, such as the one detailed in the Amazon/Boots partnership.

Currently, these antibody test are only approved for use by healthcare professionals, rather than the general public.

Wide-scale testing has been touted as a particularly useful tool for curbing the spread of the virus, as it allows for a more accurate picture of the number of individuals who have had the coronavirus.

Both the UK and the US have been criticised for their respective lack of testing, although the US Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) has recently approved a number of COVID-19 tests and the UK’s NHS has also expanded its testing capabilities.

As global coronavirus cases near a million – the figure, as of 1 April, is currently 874,081 – expanded testing is becoming increasingly important as governments across the world continue to grapple with outbreaks of varying proportions.

“The most effective way to prevent infections and save lives is breaking the chains of transmission. And to do that, you must test and isolate,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, during a media briefing on 16 March.

“We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case,” he added.

Article by
PMGroup

1st April 2020

From: Research

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