A new made-in-Wales antibody test is being introduced throughout the UK to tell whether people have had coronavirus.
Wales – and the rest of the UK – will roll out the new-style blood tests, including those produced in Pencoed by Ortho Clinical Diagnostics (OCD).
The company is one of a number to produce the antibody tests for the UK – it became involved after responding to a call to action to help with the coronavirus response from the First Minister and Life Sciences Hub Wales.
Welsh Labour Health Minister Vaughan Gething today welcomed the availability of the new test, saying Wales will decide how the test is rolled out, prioritised and managed. It is expected it will be available in care homes.
An expert group is currently working on the antibody testing strategy for Wales and will make an announcement shortly.
The Health Minister said:
“The approval and production of the new antibody test is an important step forward in our efforts to stop the spread of the virus, protect the public and ease lockdown restrictions.
This test will tell us if people have already had coronavirus. But it is important to say although the test can tell if someone has had the virus, it’s not certain as to how much immunity they’ll have to the virus.
We are also looking to deliver another type of antibody test, which can give a result in minutes. Together with the test announced today this will form an important part of our Test, Trace, Protect to strategy to help Wales come out of lockdown. I will shortly be announcing how these antibody tests will fit into the strategy and when our critical workers and general public will be able to get access to them.”
Ortho has developed a manufacturing base for serological testing in Wales over the last 40 years. It employs more than 500 people at its site in Pencoed and produces many millions of tests each week for a wide range of disease states and medical conditions for distribution globally.
Working in partnership with Public Health Wales, Ortho will provide its Covid-19 assays produced in Pencoed to support Covid-19 testing across Wales. The tests can detect antibodies that can be used to identify an immune response.
Welsh Labour Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates added:
“The response of businesses throughout Wales to support our effort in responding to coronavirus continues to be truly remarkable.
Ortho’s work to produce these vital antibody tests at their facility in Pencoed is a clear demonstration of the company’s innovative capability and wealth of expertise.
I’d like to thank Ortho, its workers and all partners involved for their commitment and effort in delivering these essential products right here in Wales.”
In addition to the antibody test, which will be available from Ortho and other suppliers in the UK, work is ongoing in Wales to develop another type of antibody test, which involves taking a pinprick of blood, which can be tested with a device to give a result in minutes. This test would be more accessible and help to make antibody testing more widely available.