‘Jersey could be the most tested place on the planet’

JERSEY could become one of the best tested places on earth, it has been claimed, after thousands of antibody tests arrived there.

Jersey is putting up a temporary 180-bed Nightingale Hospital at Millbrook Playing Fields. (Picture by Rob Currie, 28061865)
Jersey is putting up a temporary 180-bed Nightingale Hospital at Millbrook Playing Fields. (Picture by Rob Currie, 28061865)

Jerseyman Gary Hopkinson, a former Victoria College student, and his business partner, Canadian businessman Alex Schnaider, struck a deal to supply 50,000 Healgen antibody detection kits to the island a couple of weeks ago through a company they own jointly.

Testing is taking place with a view to the Jersey government undertaking a mass screening programme.

Antibody tests are designed to detect whether a patient has had Covid-19 and therefore whether they could be immune to it.

The UK government has paid £3.5m. for antibody tests, but there have been questions as to how effective the tests are.

There are concerns that it can take time to get a positive result and not everyone who has been infected with Covid-19 will show as positive.

The World Health Organization has also issued a warning that even if someone does have the antibodies, it does not mean they are necessarily immune from being infected again.

Mr Hopkinson, who runs large-scale businesses in California, has been supplying kits to various countries and made the decision to help his home island after his sister explained that Jersey was short of testing equipment.

An outstanding order of 150,000 kits from another supplier is yet to arrive in Jersey.

‘With 50,000 kits and 100,000 population, Jersey will be the most tested nation on earth by a mile,’ said Mr Hopkinson.

‘And Jersey is actually the perfect place to do an immunology study. So, there is nowhere quite like Jersey that can do this and it can hopefully open up its economy again quickly, based on doing these tests.’

Mr Hopkinson said he would like to make as many as 250,0000 further test kits available for Jersey, with islanders likely to require multiple tests in the coming months. Jersey has a population of more than 100,000 people.

He said that the tests were from one of the best manufacturers, Chinese company Healgen, and ‘95% specific’ in terms of accuracy.

But he added that they needed to be administered with a correct testing strategy and said that he had offered to provide support to the government of Jersey for this in the shape of expert advice and cutting-edge software.

Guernsey introduced on-island testing on the last weekend of March that shows whether someone currently has Covid-19, having faced some problems with a slow turnaround when relying on UK labs. Jersey’s on-island testing began only on 8 April.

As of yesterday, Jersey had carried out 2,111 tests whereas Guernsey has done 2,491.

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