Winter lifeline as 90-minute checks tell Covid-19 from flu

Henrietta Brewer
August 4, 2020

Most tests take around 24 hours and the longer someone is walking around with the coronavirus, the more likely it is they will infect other people.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has hailed the two new tests, both of which can detect the presence of coronavirus and flu viruses in the same sample outside a specialised laboratory, as "a big step forward".

The current tests have raised concerns over accuracy and reliability of the antibody tests as well as the invasiveness of the swab test.

They will comprise 5.8 million tests using DNA and 450,000 swab tests.

He added the new rapid tests will enable the Government to expand testing capacity further and into different settings, such as schools.

Following the new announcement from the government which has been made ahead of the United Kingdom heading into winter, here is the latest on testing.

The UK has ordered millions of fast-turnaround tests for Covid-19 that can give results within 90 minutes.

From next week nearly half a million LamPORE swabs will be available across adult care settings and laboratories.

The COVID Nudge test adapts DnaNudge's consumer service, which was launched a year ago to analyse and map users' genetic profile to key nutrition-related health traits such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol, enabling customers to be "nudged" by their DNA towards healthier eating.

Some 5,000 machines, supplied by DnaNudge, will provide 5.8 million tests in the coming months, the department said.

"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".

Gordon Sanghera, chief executive 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".

"One of the great innovations... is that this can be administered without someone having technical abilities or technical know-how".

"We're using the most innovative technologies available to tackle coronavirus".

The new tests were announced after the department denied that it had abandoned its pledge to regularly test care home residents through the summer following a leaked memo from Professor Jane Cummings, the government's adult social care testing director.

According to the Sunday Times, Prof Cummings wrote to local authority leaders to inform them that "previously advised timelines for rolling out regular testing in care homes" were being altered because of "unexpected delays".

Professor Graham Cooke, NIHR Research Professor of Infectious Diseases at Imperial, who led the clinical development, said: "Early work involving thousands of people in clinical settings show that this PCR test is fast, reliable and accurate".

Working with DHSC, and with the authorisation of the MHRA, DnaNudge validated its adapted technology in April and began an initial deployment of the COVID Nudge test in eight London hospitals - including cancer wards, A&E and maternity departments at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, Charing Cross Hospital, West Middlesex University Hospital, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Royal Hospital Chelsea, Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Maternity Hospital, the Renal Transplant Centre at Hammersmith Hospital and the Tower Hamlets Centre for Mental Health at Mile End Hospital.

They are now being used in eight hospitals - all in London - and are found in wards where patients are most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as cancer wards, accident and emergency, and maternity wards.

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