A test that can identify coronavirus carriers who aren't showing symptoms is being hailed as a "game-changer".
The Government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said Public Health England's (PHE) work on the new antibody test is "progressing very fast", and will provide valuable insight into the pandemic gripping the world.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said development of the test isn't far away.
"The great thing about having a test to see whether you've had it enough, is suddenly a green light goes on above your head and you can go back to work safe and confident in the knowledge that you are most unlikely to get it again," he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
"So for an economic point of view, from a social point of view, it really could be a game-changer.
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"You can really see the potential of that advance, which, as I say, is coming down the track."
Sir Patrick echoed his comments, saying the test is "progressing very fast".
He added: "Public Health England is looking at this today.
"They've got a test in house they've got going and we're looking at ways at getting the much more widespread version out.
"It is a game-changer. And the reason it's a game-changer is that it allows you to understand the proportion of the asymptomatic population – who's had this disease, but hasn't had symptoms.
"Going forward it's going to be critically important to be able to monitor this disease well because only by being able to monitor it can we start relaxing measures again."
The Government had previously announced it would be ramping up testing and carrying out 25,000 coronavirus tests every day.
Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said officials were also looking at Covid-19 tests that could be taken from home.
"As we go forward, we have an ambition to have some sort of home-based test for the very reason which has been described here – which is we don't want potentially infectious people arriving in hospitals," she said.
"But we recognise that the public, and particularly our key workers, want to understand their status so that they can get back to normal activities."
She said "huge" progress had been made in the last few weeks.
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