The British government has procured “millions” of two separate coronavirus tests that can detect not only coronavirus but several other viruses common in autumn, winter and spring, the UK’s Department of Health said Monday.
The tests will be rolled out in hospitals, care homes and labs across the UK from next week.
“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,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement.
Pandemic experts have said it would be useful to be able to differentiate among the various flu-like illnesses that circulate in winter months, and quick detection of any of them can help get patients isolated and onto whatever treatment is available.
The department has said that the tests “will hugely increase testing capacity ahead of winter, delivering fast results that will help to break chains of transmission quickly.”
One test — carried out by “Nudgebox” machines, supplied by DnaNudge — will analyze DNA in nose swabs, and provide a positive or negative result for COVID-19 in 90 minutes, the department of health said.
The other — called the LamPORE test — will process swab and saliva samples to detect the presence of COVID-19 in 60 to 90 minutes. The government has not published full details on the accuracy of the tests, but has said the LamPORE test has the “same sensitivity as the widely used PCR swab test.”
Research has found that quick testing and quick reporting of results are needed for contact tracing to be effective.
In recent months, the global medical community has been looking to get quicker results to stem the tide of the outbreak.
Several manufacturers say they have developed technology which returns a quick test result — the Abbott ID NOW test, which was used in the White House, is faster than other tests, showing results within 13 minutes.
However, a May study found that the tests frequently misses cases of the virus, with the study authors at NYU Langone Health in New York commenting that the Abbott test was so inaccurate that it was “unacceptable” for use with their patients.