100,000 coronavirus antibody tests ‘gathering dust in warehouses’

The pin-prick test is 99.4 per cent accurate, according to independent verification obtained by Avonchem, with results available in 10 to 15 minutes. But the firm now warns it may have to ship the tests overseas if it can not secure the necessary approval for their use in this country in the near future.

James Gray, the managing director of Avonchem, told The Telegraph: “We’re not interested in profiteering. We want to do the right thing and give the Government the opportunity to use them, but their lack of interest and engagement until now has been very sad and frustrating.”

It comes as the Government faces growing questions about its approach to the purchase of antibody testing, after it emerged that PHE’s coronavirus test misses a third of positive results.

One study found the EuroImmun IGg ELISA test being used to gather PHE’s data about how many people have already had the virus is only 67 per cent accurate.

The Department of Health has confirmed that it had to cancel orders for £70 million worth of tests after they were found to be inaccurate.

That figure was out of a total £90 million, suggesting the remaining £20 million could not be recovered and the tests must now be used for non-diagnostic purposes or scrapped.

Suppliers such as Avonchem have accused Whitehall of a “glacial approach to procurement” and of stonewalling its offers to supply the tests.

Mr Gray, whose firm has supplied similar tests to the UN, Unesco and health charities for use in Africa, approached Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s office in March, offering to supply the tests. “It just seemed to fall into an abyss, with no response to our offer,” he said.

There was also no response when the firm approached No. 10 in April or when it went through the Government’s online portal.

Finally, a special adviser to Mr Hancock responded to another email sent by Avonchem on May 15, and on Wednesday the Department of Health asked for the test to be submitted to Oxford University for validation.

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