NEW YORK ─ The UK government's Department of Health and Social Care has signed a two-year contract worth £124.4 million ($172.9 million) with blood-testing firm Thriva to enable the delivery of at-home COVID-19 antibody tests for the UK population.
Under the agreement, Thriva "will provide a comprehensive, end-to-end capillary blood testing service to detect the presence of antibodies generated against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in the blood," representing "the only at-home testing capability not drawing on resource-intensive phlebotomy and NHS capacity," according to the UK government website.
DHSC awarded the contract to Thriva in July, and it will run to January 2023.
Responding to a request for comment about the award, a DHSC spokesperson said, "To date, we have used antibody testing as part of large-scale research and surveillance studies into COVID-19, as well as offering it to some medical staff. We are building on our understanding of the science around immunity and continue to apply this in our response to the pandemic."
"Individuals who have been previously infected or vaccinated might still put others at risk and must continue to follow all national COVID-19 guidelines, including testing or vaccination certification," the spokesperson added.
At-home tests may be used to obtain a National Health Service COVID Pass, accessed via an NHS app. To obtain the NHS COVID Pass, an individual is required, among other conditions, to provide evidence of a negative PCR or lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of entry to a venue. Both on-site and at-home tests are accepted.
According to Thriva's website, it provides home-based tests for many medical conditions, and an at-home fingerprick blood test for COVID-19 antibodies can be ordered for £65. There was no information about which antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 the test detects.