The Department of Health have drawn up forms for private firms to offer help as the government tries to dig their way out of the row over testing and protection for NHS staff.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced yesterday the Government would be asking for private sector help as they dramatically scaled-up their testing goal to 100,000 a day by the end of the month.
The open call is for anyone who can make the antigen tests, also known as swab tests which can tell if someone has the virus currently.
They are also asking for firms who can make antibody tests – which can test if someone has previously had the disease, but cannot tell if they currently have it.
These could enable the Government to start to release the country from lockdown, and potentially issue Brits with immunity wristbands declaring their coronavirus status.
Officials had previously said they had already bought 17.5 million antibody tests for use in the UK, but Mr Hancock said the accuracy of these tests had so far proved questionable.
He said this evening none of the countries in the G7 group of nations had found a home antibody test kit.
He said: “We continue to search for one, again this is an area where the science is constantly developing.
“There’s a huge amount of global effort going into finding one of these tests that does work.”
One of the tests failed to pick up three out of four positive cases of coronavirus, according to Mr Hancock.
Medics on the frontline and key workers have been crying out for testing so they can know they are safe to keep working and keep the country moving.
Photos of drive-thru testing centres showed chaos as cars piled up and workers were turned away because they had not booked in advance.
NHS staff helping keep people alive have slammed the government for their failure to properly distribute PPE in hospitals.
Some have said they feel like “cannon fodder”.
Mr Hancock said today four more medical staff had died after being infected with Covid-19.
A doctor MP revealed earlier this week ambulance workers were given only one set of PPE for an entire 12-hour shift.
Mr Hancock said there were “millions” of pieces of PPE in stockpile and they were adding to that.
He said: “We have millions of pieces of PPE in the stockpile but we’re also replenishing it all the time “were replenishing it both from buying internationally and making it domestically.”
He revealed fashion house Burberry had already begun manufacturing PPE with their production lines.
More than 26.7 million units of PPE were delivered to 281 NHS trusts and providers yesterday.
Confirmed cases of coronavirus soared again today to 38,168 with 3,605 deaths.
The PM’s spokesman said today: “That included 7.8 million aprons, 1.7 million masks and 12.4 million gloves.”
“It follows the new guidance issued by Public Health England about the level of protection health staff should wear depending on the patient situation.”
Some antibody kits Number10 is looking at claim to be up to 98 per cent accurate.
Ministers promised the kits would be set to roll out in mid-April and could be delivered via Amazon or Boots.
There was a massive effort from private companies to manufacture ventilators after the government called on them to help.
Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) Matthew Lesh welcomed the government’s decision to finally mobilise the private sector.
In a paper released before the government’s decision the ASI found private companies had continually offered to help supply tests, and had been ignored by government officials and Public Health England.
It said private sector help was crucial to tackling coronavirus.
Mr Lesh told SunOnline: “It is excellent news that the Government is now calling for help from the private sector for COVID-19 testing.
“We can expect many thousands to put up their hands. All the Government had to do was ask.”
He criticised Public Health England for not acting earlier, saying they had “failed the nation”.
One British company, Dorset based firm Mauveworx, appealed directly to NHS trusts offering to help supply PPE equiement.
Officials have not revealed how accurate the tests need to be before they will finally approve them.