Coronavirus latest: Young businessman offers Birmingham tests to prevent lockdown

They have been hailed by world renowned Institut Pasteur in Paris as “highly accurate” and found to be faultless when tested under the right conditions. The French army and health service have since ordered millions of the tests – which have been hailed as a “game changer” by Dr David Bouillon who quit his GP practice to travel around Belgium testing people using them.

After seeing how effective Medakit has been on the continent, founder Mike Touzard is now offering thousands of tests completely free of charge to health services in Birmingham.

The 24-year-old entrepreneur, who started his first business when he was just 15, hopes they can be used to control the spread of the virus as the city teeters on the brink of a localised lockdown.

Mr Touzard, who splits his time between Brussels and Hong Kong, said: “The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us. We’ve heard that the situation in Birmingham is quickly deteriorating and we decided to help.

“Using our scalable and ultra-accurate testing solution, we could test the whole city within a week.

“I’m very happy to be able to help the people of Birmingham and it’ll be an honour to personally deliver the Medakit tests to the local health services.

“I will also take the opportunity to offer our scalable testing solution to the city of Birmingham, which could be set up within days, while being 100 percent cost free for the city. 

“This would let the people of Birmingham the possibility to know if they have been infected by Covid within 10 minutes.

“A study published a few weeks ago by the Department of Health and Imperial College London showed that more than 3.4 million people in the UK have had COVID-19, more than 10 times the official number. People have the right to know their Covid status.”

Unlike the government’s current tests which take two days to come back, Medakit tells people if they have antibodies which fight the virus within minutes.

Using a pregnancy-test style marker system, it indicates if people have IgM antibodies – which initially fight the virus – or IgG antibodies which indicate longer lasting immunity.

The Institut Pasteur in Paris found it to be 100 percent accurate between 14 and 19 days after someone shows symptoms.

Other studies also found that it boasted a sensitivity of 98.31 percent and specificity of 99.23 percent (a low number of false positives and negatives) – making it one of the best coronavirus antibody tests in the world.

Mr Touzard saw its potential and set about manufacturing the kits in a Chinese factory before they were shipped to Europe as the pandemic gripped the world.

They have passed EU rules and are eligible for use in the UK.

If an NHS trust accepts his offer they would arrive within days, Mr Touzard said.

He added: “They are the best, most accurate, most efficient, scalable and cost effective solution for the British people.

“It takes less than a minute to administer the test and have the results within two to 10 minutes.

“At the moment you can do antibody tests in pharmacies in London and it takes two days to get the results.

“In Paris they use our kits and give you the results in 10 minutes. They give you a certificate and you are able to travel that with it.”

Unlike swab tests which look for the virus, Medakit works by taking a few droplets of blood and seeing if someone has antibodies.

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It reveals the presence of these specific antibodies and showed no cross reactivity with other virus antibodies like Sarsnd HIV when tested.

Mr Touzard is now reaching out to the NHS trusts in Birmingham and across the West Midlands with his offer of help.

He said: “We invite doctors in Birmingham to reach out to us, to make fast and accurate testing a reality in your city. We’ve worked with top experts to make our testing protocol effective and we can’t wait to present it to you.”

He also believes that the test could be put to great effect as part of the government’s “track and trace” plan to monitor coronavirus.

It could be linked to an app and allow people to upload their results within minutes of taking them, he said.

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