UK in talks to buy 'game changer' coronavirus antibody test

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is in talks to buy a coronavirus antibody test that could be a game changer if it works and already scientists are making progress in finding medicines that can fight the disease, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.

"We are in negotiations today to buy a so-called antibody test, as simple as a pregnancy test, that can tell whether you have had the disease," Johnson told a news conference.

"It is early days but if it works as its proponents claim, then we will buy literally hundreds of thousands of these kits as soon as practicable because obviously it has the potential to be a total game changer," he added.

Johnson also said scientists were making headway in removing the "cloak of invisibility" that surrounds the virus to fully understand its workings.

"Today we've put the first British corona patient into a randomised trial for drugs that may treat the disease. UK experts, scientists expect to start trials for the first vaccine within a month," Johnson said.

"This is rapidly coming down the track, but it will take time to come on stream," he said of the scientific advancements.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas and Paul Sandle; editing by Kylie MacLellan and Guy Faulconbridge)