Babylon offers lab-based COVID-19 antibody tests to anyone in the UK, and gives the option to aid much-needed national research
- A finger-prick blood test available now, to be taken at home and analysed in a third-party lab, will tell people if they have COVID-19 antibodies
- Users can choose to opt-in to share information such as symptoms, location and test results to aid much-needed national research by institutions such as Public Health England
- Anyone in the UK can buy the test at Babylon’s cost price
Antibody tests play an essential role in understanding the spread of COVID-19, giving us greater information about how many people have had the disease, even among those who had no symptoms. Whilst we do not yet know whether antibodies equate to immunity, this new prevalence information could be vital for guiding future public policy. Babylon is offering antibody tests to anyone in the UK at our cost price, to make them as affordable and accessible as possible. These third-party lab-analysed tests will be able to determine whether or not a person has been previously infected by the COVID-19 virus.
The tests being offered are produced by a leading diagnostics company and lab-analysed by a fully-accredited Eurofins laboratory, based here in the UK. The lab reports that, unlike less reliable at-home rapid tests, these tests have 98.5% sensitivity and 99.5% specificity, meaning that out of 1000 positive cases only 15 will come back negative (called false negatives) and out of 1000 negative cases only 5 will come back positive (called false positives). Babylon is offering the tests at our cost price (£69) and we have included a transparent breakdown of the costs on our website.
Dr Olivia Morrow, who is helping lead the antibody testing effort at Babylon, said:
“These tests can help give answers to people who are unsettled, wondering if that cough, fever, or loss of smell they had in February was COVID-19. With Babylon’s help, we can gain insight into how often people with only mild symptoms, or even no symptoms at all, have developed antibodies and perhaps start to answer important questions about immunity and the spread of the virus.”
Scientists and doctors still have many questions about COVID-19. When ordering these tests patients can choose to share information about their symptoms, demographics, and testing history with researchers to provide them with invaluable information about the disease. This is particularly important as much of the research done on COVID-19 patients has been done in hospitals on more serious cases, but little is known about the vast majority who had more mild symptoms.
Dr Olivia Morrow added, “Despite thousands of scientific papers on COVID-19, most are focused on hospitalized patients with severe disease. Babylon can support national research as fewer studies have been done looking at those with more mild symptoms in the wider community. This could help answer questions about which regions are at greater risk for breakouts, how to guide social distancing measures and better understand the natural history of the disease. By choosing to share their information, people could help add a piece to the puzzle of our understanding of this devastating pandemic.”
With explicit consent from testers, Babylon is committed to analysing the information to contribute to the world's understanding of this disease. Babylon aims to publish this aggregated information, and is offering to share important anonymised data with the research community and Public Health England. This will provide valuable insights needed to understand the virus and guide public policy, including planning for future health services and how to safely ease lockdown policies.
Notes to editor:
- COVID-19 antibody tests detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. However, even if you have these antibodies, research has not been done which shows you’re immune or if you can still pass it on to other people.
- People will need to register for a free account with Babylon to access and purchase the test. The Babylon app is free to download for anyone in the UK.
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Released May 15, 2020