UK to deploy 90-minute rapid COVID-19 tests

By William Smith
The UK government has announced it is to deliver “millions” of rapid coronavirus tests in the UK, in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19...

The UK government has announced it is to deliver “millions” of rapid coronavirus tests in the UK, in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The tests will be available in NHS hospitals, care homes and labs, and will also be used to detect other “winter viruses” including flu and RSV. They do not require a trained health professional to be used.

The tests come in two varieties. One, using DNA to detect the virus, is to be rolled out in hospitals from September alongside DNA machines provided by DnaNudge. In a press release, Regius Professor Chris Toumazou FRS, CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge, said: “We have been able to successfully adapt our in-store consumer DNA testing technology – which identifies genetic risks for chronic conditions related to obesity and type 2 diabetes – and validate it for detecting COVID-19 with gold-standard accuracy.”

The other type of tests are known as LamPORE swab tests, 450,000 of which are being supplied by Oxford Nanopore. Gordon Sanghera, CEO of Oxford Nanopore, said: “LamPORE has the potential to deliver a highly effective and, crucially, accessible global testing solution, not only for COVID-19 but for a range of other pathogens. We are delighted to be working with the UK government to support and empower our communities to effectively manage testing at a national and localised level.”

The government framed the development in terms of increasing testing capacity ahead of winter, when health systems will come under strain by the increased ill health inherent to the season.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We’re using the most innovative technologies available to tackle coronavirus. Millions of new rapid coronavirus tests will provide on-the-spot results in under 90 minutes, helping us to break chains of transmission quickly. 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. I am hugely grateful for the excellent work done by DnaNudge and Oxford Nanopore to push forward these life-saving innovations in coronavirus testing.”

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