Millions of “ground-breaking” rapid coronavirus tests will be rolled out to hospitals, care homes and labs across the UK to increase testing capacity ahead of winter. The tests will enable clinicians and the NHS to quickly test and trace to stop any future spread of the virus.
A recent study suggests measures already taken to limit transmission in care homes and hospitals had been working effectively through early July, with continued reduction of the virus, even while some restrictions were eased in May and June.
The two new tests—both able to detect the virus in just 90 minutes—will be made available to NHS hospitals, care homes and labs. The 2 tests will be able to detect both COVID-19 and other winter viruses such as flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), yet do not require a trained health professional to operate—meaning they can be rolled out in more non-clinical settings.
“The fact these tests can detect flu as well as COVID-19 will be hugely beneficial as we head into winter, so patients can follow the right advice to protect themselves and others,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock in an August 3 statement.
Almost a half million LamPORE swab tests will be available across adult care settings and laboratories starting next week, supplied by Oxford Nanopore. The new test will be able to process swab and saliva samples to detect the presence of COVID-19 in 60 to 90 minutes.
The second test uses DNA to detect the virus, with 5,000 DNA machines supplied by the maker, DnaNudge, being rolled out next month to NHS hospitals allowing 5.8 million tests in the coming months.
The machines will analyze DNA from nose swabs, providing a positive or negative result for COVID-19 in 90 minutes, at the point of care. The machines will process up to 15 tests on the spot each day without the need for a laboratory.
The DNA COVID-19 test machines are currently operating in 8 London hospitals—and are located in cancer wards and maternity wards to protect those most at risk.
The LamPORE test has the same sensitivity as the widely used PCR swab test, but can be used to process swabs in labs, as well as on-location through ‘pop up’ labs. The desktop GridION machine can process up to 15,000 tests a day, or the palm-sized MinION can process up to 2,000 tests a day for deployment in a near-community ‘pop-up’ lab, according to the Health Ministry.