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COVID-19: Superdrug launches phlebotomy antibody testing service

Superdrug has launched a nurse-led phlebotomy antibody test for COVID-19 that patients can access at its health clinics.

Anyone who is over 18 can book an appointment to get the antibody test done by a nurse in one of 30 Superdrug health clinics at the cost of £89, the multiple said announcing the service yesterday (July 20).

As part of the testing service, patients will be asked to register with Superdrug Online Doctor and complete a short questionnaire before their order for the test is placed, the multiple said.

On the day of the appointment, a nurse will check the patient’s ID and “complete a risk assessment for the venous draw”, it added.  

The patient’s blood will then be taken by a nurse and sent to a laboratory approved by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) in a Royal Mail priority post box used to collect and deliver COVID-19 test kits

“All aspects of the testing service are in line with current government guidelines and the test is run by a UKAS-accredited laboratory,” Superdrug said in a statement.

Superdrug claims the test “has a sensitivity of 97.5% [meaning] it will detect positive antibodies 97.5% of the time” and that it has “a specificity of 100%", which means that “if you get a positive result, you can be sure the result is specific to the [COVID-19] virus”.

Pharmacists will at this stage not be carrying out the service. A Superdrug spokesperson told C+D yesterday that it currently does not employ any pharmacists trained in phlebotomy.

However, “we work with a training a provider who does provide phlebotomy training for pharmacists, so as the demand for screening service on the high street grows, this may be something we look into in the future,” they said.

Finger-prick test still “under review”

Superdrug’s antibody testing service gives patients an option, outside of the NHS, to find out if they have had the virus, Superdrug’s healthcare director Michael Henry said.

“While the antibody testing option of being able to draw your own blood via a finger prick test is still under review, people still want easy access to a service where they can find out if they have already been infected with COVID-19,” he said.

In May, Superdrug launched a finger-prick COVID-19 antibody test, available through its online doctor service. However, just two weeks after the tests launched, the multiple was forced to “temporarily” halt the sale of them following a request from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Superdrug is still planning to sell its finger-prick tests once these are approved by the MHRA, a process that is “still ongoing”, a spokesperson for the multiple told C+D yesterday.

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