France trials new Covid-19 blood test as labs mobilise

The blood tests look for antibodies, and aim to provide a picture of how far the virus has spread throughout the population

A new, fast blood test for Covid-19 is being developed and tested in France after a successful hospital trial, as it is announced that local labs will be authorised to test for the virus from Monday April 6.

The test is being developed by BioSpeedia, based at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. It is aiming to test whether someone’s blood contains antibodies against Covid-19, which will confirm if they have had the virus or not - even if they had no symptoms.

An early trial on 146 people was deemed conclusive, with a specificity of 98.1 to 100% and a sensitivity of 95.5 to 100%.

Because blood tests look for antibodies to the virus, and not the actual virus itself, they allow testers to check if patients have had the virus even if they have no symptoms, or are now cured. It is estimated that as many as 80% of people with the virus show no symptoms.

This means that the blood tests can not only help to diagnose patients in the later stages of the illness, but also show the extent of the virus’ real spread among the population. ...

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