How to Apply for a COVID-19 Test and Other Updates

I am writing to inform you that as of yesterday, anyone in the UK over the age of 5 years old with symptoms of COVID-19 can now book a test using the online portal below.

This is a significant milestone in our test capacity. Additionally, the Department of Health and Social Care has been closely monitoring the emerging data on COVID-19, and after thorough consideration, is now able to confirm that the loss of taste and smell has now officially been added to the list of COVID-19 symptoms.

It is recommended that you apply for a test within the first three days of having symptoms as the test is best taken and most accurate within 5 days of symptoms starting. Permanent testing sites are in Leicester, Nottingham, and Peterborough as well as mobile sites that change location every two days which have already visited both Melton Mowbray and Oakham. When you go online to book it will tell you the nearest location that day and the next few days.

It remains unchanged that if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of/change to your sense of smell or taste) your entire household should self-isolate for 14 days.

As we slowly transition back to normality, the ability to be tested will help us stay alert to the threat of COVID-19 and make informed decisions to keep ourselves and others safe.

I’ve also provided below updates on where we are with the antibody test, a vaccine for COVID-19, the Government Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre which will open 12 months early, and specially trained COVID detection dogs.

Thank you for your efforts to heal our country so far, and do be in touch if I can be of any assistance to you. 

Stay well –




Antibody Testing

Last week we had some very positive news on the antibody testing front, with scientists at Porton Down confirming that an antibody test has shown to be exceedingly accurate.

These tests are designed to detect who has had the virus and have rightly been called a 'game-changer' by the Prime Minister. 

I am extremely pleased that an accurate test has been established. It should give us a much better idea of how many people have been infected, and that number will tell us how many people are vulnerable to a second wave.

Roche who is producing the test is now working with the Government and the NHS to enable the test to be rolled out across the UK as soon as possible once it is ready.

Vaccine Update

 Last month we launched a new taskforce to accelerate the development of a vaccine for COVID-19, bringing together the efforts of government, academia and industry towards a single goal of defeating COVID-19 once and for all.

This week, we have provided an additional £84 million to accelerate the development of a vaccine, having already invested £47 million in the Oxford and Imperial vaccine programmes whose work has meant that two of the world’s front-runners to develop a vaccine are here in the UK.  

The additional £84 million will help mass produce the Oxford vaccine, so that if current clinical trials are successful, we have dosages to start vaccinating the UK population straight away. This means Astra Zeneca will work to make up to 30 million doses available by September for the UK, as part of an agreement to deliver 100 million doses in total. The funding will also allow Imperial to launch phase 3 clinical trials of its vaccine later this year.

On top of this, we have donated more than any other country in the world to the international coalition trying to find a vaccine (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations).

The Government Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre

The Government will invest up to £93 million to accelerate construction of the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre which, when completed, will have capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to serve the entire UK population in as little as six months when vaccines are needed and created.

The funding will ensure the centre opens in Summer 2021, a full 12 months ahead of schedule.


COVID Detection Dogs

Trials for specially-trained ‘COVID dogs’ that may be able to detect coronavirus (COVID-19) in humans, even before symptoms appear, are set to begin as part of new research.

The trials will establish whether they could be used as a potentially new non-invasive, early warning measure to detect coronavirus in the future.

World-leading researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) will carry out the first phase of a trial in collaboration with the charity Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University, backed by £500,000 of Government funding.

The trial brings together leading disease control experts from the universities with Medical Detection Dogs, who have already successfully trained dogs to detect the odour of many different diseases in humans, such as cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s disease.

This new trial will look at whether the dogs, a mixture of labradors and cocker spaniels, can be trained to detect coronavirus in people too, even if they are not showing symptoms.