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UK officials spent $20 million on 2 million home testing kits for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies that did not work, the New York Times reports.

It adds that the incident underscores both the desperation of authorities and the increasing competition among governments for supplies. According to the Times, two Chinese companies offered British officials the home testing kits, which had to be paid for in advance and picked up from a location in China. However, later testing by an Oxford University laboratory found the kits were not accurate, it adds.

Both Chinese companies said the UK officials exaggerated or misunderstood the use of the tests, that they were to serve as a supplement for those who had already tested positive for the virus, the Times adds.

Even if the kits were accurate, the Times notes that the World Health Organization has warned that rapid antibody tests have limited utility for patients. "British officials, though, were eager for a breakthrough," it adds, noting that they have said they are trying to recoup some of their losses.