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On-site coronavirus tests that deliver results in 15 to 30 minutes are introduced


Millions of coronavirus tests that provide on-site results within minutes are to be rolled out in low-income countries around the world, hailed as a milestone in the fight against the disease.

The rapid tests – which only take 15 to 30 minutes to get a diagnosis – work like a pregnancy test and show two blue lines when someone is positive.

They work by taking a nasal swab and inserting the sample into a cartridge that looks for antigens or proteins on the surface of the virus. Antigen wiping is generally viewed as a less accurate – albeit much faster – test method.

Wealthy countries use higher quality genetic tests called PCR tests, but they have to be processed with expensive laboratory equipment and chemicals.

Poorer countries have simply not been able to implement PCR testing on a significant scale, leading to fears that outbreaks are not adequately reported in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. While Europe tests an average of 243 people per 100,000 per day and North America tests 395 swabs, Africa tests fewer than 16.

US drug giant Abbott and South Korean manufacturer SD Biosensor, which make the devices, have agreed to supply the tests to 133 low-income countries at the discounted price of £ 3.80 ($ 5).

The World Health Organization and the Bill and Melisa Gates Foundation said the £ 467 million ($ 600 million) project could begin as early as next month.

Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services, wipes his nose as he shows off a new COVID-19 test with a quick result

The companies claim their tests are 97 percent accurate, but only under optimal conditions. Its true sensitivity is believed to be between 80 and 90 percent in real-world scenarios.

PCR swabs used en masse in the West are more accurate and give the correct result 99 percent of the time.

Wealthier nations also get access to Abbott and SD Biosensor's tests, though they have to pay a higher fee.

The exact number has not been disclosed, but Germany has already ordered 20 meter tests and France and Switzerland are following suit.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the program as "good news" in the fight against Covid-19

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the program as "good news" in the fight against Covid-19

The UK government is keen to run rapid virus testing, which would be a key part of Boris Johnson's ambitious Operation Moonshot project to run 10 million tests a day.

However, it is not clear whether ministers intend to buy these tests. They are currently testing UK-made saliva tests as well as rapid antigen tests, both of which take around an hour and a half to get results.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said providing rapid screening tests to low-income countries will not only help paint a clearer picture of the outbreaks in those countries, it will also enable mass screening of health workers living in poor ones Countries are dying in disproportionate numbers.

He added, "These tests provide reliable results in about 15 to 30 minutes instead of hours or days at a lower cost with less sophisticated equipment," he said.

& # 39; This will allow testing to be expanded, especially in hard-to-reach areas where there are no laboratory facilities or adequately trained health workers to perform PCR testing.

"We have an agreement, we have seed capital, and now we need the full amount to buy these tests."

SD BioSensor's test has just been approved by the WHO in an emergency, while Abbott & # 39; s test is expected to receive it shortly for a test made in South Korea.

Catharina Böhme, executive director of a non-profit group called the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, said the rollout will take place in 20 countries in Africa and will depend on the support of groups like the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund, a partnership committed to ending epidemics, said it would initially provide $ 50 million from its Covid-19 response mechanism.

He said the use of high quality rapid antigen tests will be a "significant step" in containing and fighting the coronavirus.

"They are not a silver bullet, but they are extremely valuable as a complement to PCR tests because they are less accurate, but much faster, cheaper and without a laboratory," he said.

Many rich countries have had trouble getting accurate tests too, and testing itself isn't a panacea – countries like France and the US have had intermittent residue and hiccups, and rapid tests in the UK and Spain have proven inaccurate.

The introduction of testing in poorer countries is designed to help healthcare workers get better control of the virus's cycle in hopes of halting containment and other measures to stop it.

Mr Sands said that high-income countries run 292 tests per day per 100,000 people – while the lowest-income countries run 14 per 100,000 people.

He said the 120 million tests would represent a "massive increase" in testing but still represent a fraction of what is needed in these countries.

Machine that processes 15,000 swabs a day, a 20-second saliva test and a nostril sample analyzer for £ 28 a day: How exactly are the tests planned for Boris Johnson's "Operation Moonshot" plan to screen 10 million people a day?

Rapid coronavirus tests that use up saliva, work in minutes and cost less than £ 30 a time could be used to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson's ambition of 10 million tests per day in his "Operation Moonshot".

The Prime Minister announced plans for mass testing of people in the UK earlier this month so people can get back to normal, but ministers and chief scientists have admitted the technology to do this doesn't yet exist.

However, across the UK, there are trials of innovative swab tests that allow people to get a diagnosis or get the all-clear in minutes rather than the current days of waiting.

Government pilots on which Oxford Nanopore (LamPORE technology), Optigene and DNANudge are performing lab-in-van tests are underway, but others are under constant development and testing.

These are some of the tests that might be involved in Operation Moonshot:

HALO – & # 39; groundbreaking & # 39; Saliva test

HALO Saliva Test Kit: Customers can perform the test at home by spitting into a tube (top right, the tube, bottom right, the funnel) and submitting the sample for processing

HALO Saliva Test Kit: Customers can perform the test at home by spitting into a tube (top right, the tube, bottom right, the funnel) and sending the sample in for processing

  • Sample type: saliva
  • Processing time: only seven hours
  • Tests per day: "Over 250,000 tests per week"
  • Accuracy: 100% specificity (claimed)
  • Price: Unknown but believed to be less than £ 25 per kit. The website says: "The cost is about the same as average private health insurance and less than half that of the cheapest swab-based test."

The British biotech company Halo has unveiled a saliva test that provides results in less than seven hours and is provided via a phone app.

Customers can perform the test at home by spitting into a tube and sending the sample in for processing at the company's laboratory at Imperial College London.

It is not yet clear how many tests could be processed per day in this lab alone, or whether the test could be scaled up for mass use.

However, the Halo website states, “Each test module can run over 250,000 tests per week. Although we have short term limitations of equipment, supplies, and space, we can quickly expand our number of laboratories to meet any demand. & # 39;

The Halo test works similarly to a PCR test used around the world to test people for the coronavirus with a swab.

It cleanses the genetic material from saliva and uses the polymerase chain reaction to detect the virus in a laboratory.

The company claims it is 100 percent specific to SARS-CoV-2, which means a person should never get a "false positive" result unless they have the virus.

It is "ten times more sensitive than the PCR test," reported The Telegraph.

Internal tests correctly identified the virus in 100 percent of the samples tested when the viral load was 1000 times lower than the amounts normally found in the patient's saliva, the company said, which means they can detect the virus even in small amounts can.

Jonathan Biles, General Manager of Halo, said, “Our tests are very, very sensitive. We think we have something that is changing the game, ”reported the Financial Times.

"Saliva is much less intrusive, has less environmental impact, and is less labor-intensive than other tests."

Saliva test kits from HALO are sent to people's homes in an envelope arranged via an app.

Saliva test kits from HALO are sent to people's homes in an envelope arranged via an app.

The group's first customer is Exeter University, which has purchased tens of thousands of tests for students who are showing symptoms in order to avoid major disruption from potential Covid-19 outbreaks.

Students don't even have to leave their accommodation to take a test. You will be forwarded by post.

The University of Exeter said: “Those who take tests in the morning will get results the same day, and those who take the afternoon will get results the next day. The test results are then fed into the national test and trace system.

HALO, a team led by Dr. Craig Rochford, the inventor of the life-saving Epipen, is supported by top medical professionals such as Sir Walter Bodmer and Professor Karol Sikora.

The company is currently in talks with a global airline, medical research institution, city corporations, and other companies to figure out how the test may fit.

"It is designed for large UK organizations to conveniently and painlessly test their employees and get them back to work safely and cheaply," the company said.

LamPORE – saliva sample testing in 90 minutes

  • Sample type: saliva or nasal swab
  • Processing time: 90 minutes
  • Tests per day: 2,000 (small); 15,000 (large)
  • Accuracy: 99% (claimed)
  • Price: Unknown (UK bought at least 450,000)
The small LamPORE test could be used in airports, offices, schools, pubs and restaurants to test the majority of the population

The larger device is better suited for hospitals and airports

Biotech company Oxford Nanopore has developed portable swab recorders that use the company's LamPORE tests

WHAT IS & # 39; OPERATION MOONSHOT & # 39 ;?

How will it work?

Ministers and health officials are counting on a test that doesn't need to be processed in a lab to be developed, so users can get their results in minutes, not days.

Similar to a pregnancy test, the saliva test would eliminate the need for people to travel to testing centers – sometimes long distances – before returning home to wait for the result. The tests may need to be sent to a laboratory.

How much will it cost?

Operation Moonshot will have a price tag almost as high as NHS England's budget of £ 114 billion in 2018-19, as set out in British Medical Journal documents.

Last week the government pledged £ 500 million for a new community-wide retest in Salford, Greater Manchester, as part of the pilot project for a swab-free saliva test.

A number of residents will be invited to a weekly test, with up to 250 tests being performed daily. Existing trials in Southampton and other parts of Hampshire will also be expanded.

What is the government hoping for?

The aim of the tests is to fully re-open society and get the economy going, even before a vaccine has been developed.

The government urgently needs good news after tighter social distancing measures that limit groups that meet indoors or outdoors to just six people and face fines for non-compliance.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previewed the plans, saying the program would allow Covid-negative people to "behave more normally knowing they cannot infect anyone with the virus".

What are the problems with the current testing program?

There have been numerous reports of people being asked to drive long distances to the nearest test center to find that they don't have an appointment.

A man from Maidstone, Kent, who asked not to be named, told the PA News Agency that he had been asked to do a 400-mile round trip for a test only so that his results would be lost.

On Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock also held symptom-free people who took a test responsible for the lack of test sites, even though people can be symptom-free and still spread the virus.

1) Biotech company Oxford Nanopore has developed portable swab recorders that use the company's LamPORE tests and can determine if a user has Covid within an hour and a half.

The machines take 90 minutes to produce a result and can process up to 15,000 samples per day.

Unlike existing methods that require invasive and difficult nasal and throat swabs, a saliva sample is taken.

The LamPORE device, which is also available in a desktop version about the size of a printer, uses electronic means to record and analyze the samples.

Each test is given a barcode, which is individually assessed before returning with the result. This must be done in a lab, but the labs can be mobile and used in vans or pop-up test sites.

The portable version of the LamPORE device is the same size as a CD player.

Ministers have ordered 450,000 of the tests currently being tested in Salford and Southampton. Millions more are due to be introduced later in the year when they prove effective.

The Salford Study will invite people in the community to take weekly tests with a new saliva Covid-19 test that gives results in less than an hour and a half.

The pilot begins with a selected number of participants and up to 250 tests per day that are scaled to the entire area.

Initially, the pilot will focus on specific high-footfall locations in the city, including retail, public services, transport and religious spaces.

The second phase of the no-swab saliva test pilot in Southampton will also begin this week.

In the second phase of the pilot, the weekly test model will be tested in educational institutions with the participation of staff and students from the University of Southampton and four schools in Southampton.

Over 2,100 students and staff from four schools will be invited to take a test as part of the pilot project, which is being led by a partnership between the University of Southampton, Southampton City Council and the NHS.

The makers of the test have not disclosed how accurate it is, and the government has refused to divulge this information as well.

Commenting on the tests, Mr Hancock said: & # 39; Oxford Nanopore's new LamPORE rapid tests will benefit thousands of people with quick and accurate test results, eliminating uncertainties and breaking chains of transmission quickly and safely.

"I am very grateful for the fantastic work Oxford Nanopore has done in driving this important innovation in coronavirus testing."

OptiGene swab gives 20 minutes

Sussex-based biomedical company OptiGene has developed a nose and throat swab test that takes only 20 minutes to diagnose

Sussex-based biomedical company OptiGene has developed a nose and throat swab test that takes only 20 minutes to diagnose

  • Sample type: nasal and throat swab or saliva
  • Processing time: 20 minutes
  • Tests per day: 300 per hour
  • Accuracy: 97%
  • Price: Unknown

Sussex-based biomedical company OptiGene has developed a nose and throat swab test that takes only 20 minutes to diagnose.

Once swabs are collected from patients, the samples are loaded into devices known as Genie HT, which look for tiny traces of the virus in their DNA.

The machines chemically amplify the DNA billions of times so that they can detect the virus with extreme sensitivity. They can also be used with saliva samples.

The device has proven to be just as accurate as PCR swabs. It takes days to get results in clinical trials from Public Health England.

In contrast to the widely used PCR tests that have to be performed at different temperatures, the Genie HT does not require a temperature change to obtain results.

It is currently being tested by the government at thousands of A&E departments, GP coronavirus testing centers and nursing homes across Hampshire and is being rolled out in the new testing programs in Salford and Southampton.

Four thousand people of all ages participated in the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust study.

A study conducted in Hampshire during this study found the test to be 97 percent sensitive, meaning 97 out of 100 positive cases and 99 percent specific, meaning only one in 100 People would get a false positive result.

DNANudge – 75 minutes after a nostril swab

  • Sample type: nostril
  • Processing time: 75 minutes
  • Tests per day: 15
  • Accuracy: 98%
  • Price: Average £ 28 each (UK paid £ 161m for 5.8m tests including 5,000 machines)

The DNANudge test can only detect the virus from a nostril sample – much less invasive than some throat swabs.

Once a swab is removed, it is inserted into a handheld reader, which gives results in just 75 minutes.

The DnaNudge has a sensitivity of over 98 percent – which means that it can detect mild and asymptomatic cases – and a specificity of 100 percent.

The 100 percent specificity means it can tell the difference between a person who doesn't have the disease at all and a sample that was not drawn correctly, which means there are no false negative results.

Following successful studies on 500 patients in London hospitals, the “Lab in a Cartridge” device was approved for clinical use by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) at the end of April.

One of the new test kits from London-based DNANudge scrubs DNA into nasal swabs and takes only 75 minutes

One of the new test kits from London-based DNANudge scrubs DNA into nasal swabs and takes only 75 minutes

The government has purchased at least 5,000 DNANudge machines that can process up to 15 tests per day to run six million tests over the coming months.

Developed by Chris Toumazou of Imperial College London, the test is based on the design of a DNA test and can produce a result in just over an hour, significantly reducing the 48-hour wait for a laboratory diagnosis.

Matt Hancock previously said of the machines, “By quickly detecting whether the virus is present in a person, this new test is an important step forward in point-of-care testing so that positive cases can be identified and contained quickly and safely can be.

"I'm very grateful to DnaNudge and their incredible work innovating coronavirus testing, which means we can test millions more people in the coming months."

PCR tests – to be increased to 500,000 per day

  • Sample type: nose and throat swab
  • Processing time: At least 24 hours
  • Tests per day: currently 65,000
  • Accuracy: 87-92%
  • Price: Around £ 25 per test

PCR testing is the now infamous nasal and throat swab that currently makes up the entire government diagnostic testing program.

As part of Operation Moonshot, the prime minister said officials "are working hard to increase our testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October".

Currently, between 150,000 and 200,000 tests are performed every day. However, this includes surveillance studies that use antibody tests.

According to the latest NHS test and trace data, 452,679 people received a swab test under Pillar 1 (hospitals) and Pillar 2 (community) for the week of August 20-26 – fewer than 65,000 people per day.

PHE provides instructions for people being sent home on a daily basis in the UK (see illustration). The accuracy of viral RNA swabs depends almost entirely on the quality of the sample

PHE provides instructions for people being sent home on a daily basis in the UK (see illustration). The accuracy of viral RNA swabs depends almost entirely on the quality of the sample

The swab test used worldwide is the so-called "PCR test", which looks for an active infection. It usually takes at least 24 hours to get a result.

The sample is then sent to a laboratory where it will be tested to see if the patient's cells, wiped from their throat and nose, are infected with the virus.

The coronavirus is an RNA virus, meaning it uses ribonucleic acid as genetic material. A process called reverse transcription is required to transcribe the RNA into readable DNA.

A swab sample doesn't collect a lot of RNA at one time, so a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used to quickly make billions of copies for analysis.

WHAT TESTS IS THE GOVERNMENT USING IN THE NEW PROCESSES?

Optigen: The Optigene test kit, which can use nasal swabs or saliva samples, is used on pilots in Southampton and Salford, Greater Manchester.

A study done during a trial at a Hampshire hospital found the tests to be 97% accurate.

LamPORE: The LamPORE technology was purchased by the UK government in a batch of 450,000 kits and is being used in the trials in Salford and Southampton and on 2,100 people in schools in the port city.

DNANudge: Officials have purchased 5.8 million DNANudge tests for 5,000 machines at a cost of £ 161 million. They are used in NHS hospitals to quickly analyze nasal swabs.

The DNA is colored fluorescent and glows if the coronavirus is present, which will confirm a diagnosis. There is a yes or no answer, but not how much virus the person is infected with.

The PCR test has a few drawbacks, including the fact that a swab from someone recently infected with the coronavirus will not contain the virus.

The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) says between two and three people with Covid-19 may test negative.

This is dangerous as patients could potentially go outside and pass the virus to others if they think they are free from the infection.

The accuracy of viral RNA swabs depends almost entirely on the quality of the sampling and when the sample is taken in the course of the disease, which experts say will vary widely.

Public Health England (PHE) has never disclosed how accurate its antigen tests are, despite public releases on the accuracy of antibody tests.

It has now been found that the PCR test may be “too sensitive”.

Up to 90 percent of Covid-19 patients in Massachusetts, New York and Nevada hardly carried any traces of the virus in July.

PCR tests analyze genetic substances in the virus in cycles, and today's tests typically take 37 or 40 cycles. However, experts say this is too high as it detects very small amounts of the virus that pose no risk.

The test threshold is so high that people with the live virus and those with few genetic fragments that are left over from an infection and no longer pose a risk are detected. Dr. Michael Mina, epidemiologist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said.

SAMBA II – £ 30-a-go swab analyzer is 99% accurate

The SAMBA II was developed by the Diagnostics for the Real World spin-off from the University of Cambridge

The SAMBA II was developed by the Diagnostics for the Real World spin-off from the University of Cambridge

  • Sample type: nose and throat swab
  • Processing time: 90 minutes
  • Tests per day: 15
  • Accuracy: 99%
  • Price: £ 30 per test

The SAMBA II has proven to be almost 99 percent accurate when analyzing swabs and can deliver a result in just 90 minutes.

The portable device can diagnose Covid-19 in less than 90 minutes, but it can only handle 15 tests per day.

It was developed by the University of Cambridge's Diagnostics for the Real World spin-off.

It looks through DNA in throat and nose swabs to identify the virus.

Addenbrooke & # 39; s Hospital in Cambridge has been testing the device since April.

They've proven so effective that in May the hospital switched almost all coronavirus testing from standard lab tests to Samba machines.

A samba test, which costs around £ 30 per sample, would "vastly outweigh the cost of each additional day of bedding by around £ 200," the team said.

The tests were validated in 102 patient samples at Public Health England in Cambridge and showed a sensitivity of 98.7 percent and a specificity of 100 percent.

The devices are already being used to diagnose other blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.

Virolens – a 20 second test at Heathrow

  • Sample type: saliva
  • Processing time: 20 seconds
  • Tests per day: "hundreds" from one screening device
  • Accuracy: 97% +
  • Price: Unknown
People dab saliva off their cheek and tongue before placing the sample in a cartridge

The cartridge is analyzed by a device (Virolens) so that a laboratory technician is no longer required

Virolens is a screening device that uses a digital camera attached to a microscope to analyze saliva samples and provide results in 20 seconds

Virolens is a screening device that uses a digital camera attached to a microscope to analyze saliva samples and provide results in 20 seconds.

Es wurde vom britischen Start-up iAbra mit Design- und Fertigungskompetenz von TT Electronics und Technologie von Intel entwickelt und steht kurz vor klinischen Studien, die für die Zertifizierung für medizinische Zwecke erforderlich sind.

Heathrow-Chef John Holland-Kaye fordert die Regierung auf, den Test nach einem erfolgreichen dreiwöchigen Test am Flughafen Heathrow im Rahmen des Condor-Programms der Regierung zu beschleunigen.

Er sagte heute: „Das Testen auf Covid-19 ist die Lebensader, die die britische Wirtschaft braucht, um wieder auf die Beine zu kommen.

"Ich habe den iAbra-Test neben dem PCR-Test selbst erlebt – er ist schneller und billiger und möglicherweise genauer."

Menschen tupfen Speichel von Wange und Zunge ab, bevor sie die Probe in eine Patrone legen, die vom Gerät analysiert wird, wodurch die Notwendigkeit eines Labors verringert wird.

Das Virolens-System hat Berichten zufolge eine Empfindlichkeit von 99,8 Prozent, was bedeutet, dass fast jede einzelne Person, die positiv testet, wirklich infiziert ist und es keine „falsch negativen“ gibt – wenn jemandem fälschlicherweise gesagt wird, dass er kein Coronavirus hat.

Und der Test hat eine Spezifität von 96,7 Prozent, basierend auf den Ergebnissen einer Studie an der Universität von Bristol, was bedeutet, dass etwas mehr als drei von 100 Personen ein „falsch positives“ Ergebnis erhalten – wenn Menschen fälschlicherweise glauben, sie hätten Viren.

Das Unternehmen sagte, dass der Test nicht von einem medizinischen Fachpersonal durchgeführt werden muss, was ihn für Flughäfen, Stadien und Musikveranstaltungsorte nützlich macht.

Jedes Screening-Gerät kann Hunderte von Tests pro Tag durchführen. Der Telegraph berichtet, dass jede Einheit etwa 1.650 Personen pro Tag testen kann und 15.000 Einheiten für die Produktion in Vorbereitung sind.

Berichten zufolge befindet sich die Regierung in Gesprächen mit dem Epigenetikunternehmen Chronomics über seinen Speicheltest auf Coronavirus (Bild)

Berichten zufolge befindet sich die Regierung in Gesprächen mit dem Epigenetikunternehmen Chronomics über seinen Speicheltest auf Coronavirus (Bild)

Chronomics – einstündige Ergebnisse eines Spucktests

  • Probentyp: Speichel
  • Bearbeitungszeit: 1 Stunde
  • Tests pro Tag: Unbekannt
  • Genauigkeit: 'Super genau' (behauptet)
  • Preis: Unbekannt

Das in London ansässige Unternehmen Chronomics hat einen einfachen Coronavirus-Spucktest entwickelt, der Berichten zufolge die Aufmerksamkeit der Regierung auf sich gezogen hat.

Im Juni berichtete The Telegraph, dass die Regierung Gespräche mit der britischen Firma führte, die von Wissenschaftlern der Universitäten Oxford, Cambridge und des University College London gegründet wurde.

SCHNELLE TESTS 'EXISTIEREN NOCH NICHT'

Experten sind vorsichtig in Bezug auf die Möglichkeit, "Operation Moonshot" durchzuführen, da die Schnelltests noch nicht existieren.

Minuten nachdem die Pläne von Premierminister Boris Johnson auf der Pressekonferenz in der Downing Street enthüllt worden waren, sagte der Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, die Technologie sei noch nicht verfügbar, und warnte, er solle keinen Termin festlegen, wann dies der Fall sein würde, weil „so funktioniert Wissenschaft nicht '.

Und der wissenschaftliche Leiter Patrick Vallance sagte: „Es gibt Prototypen, die so aussehen, als hätten sie eine gewisse Wirkung, aber sie müssen ordnungsgemäß getestet werden.

"Wir würden völlig falsch annehmen, dass dies ein Slam Dunk ist, der definitiv passieren kann."

Am Donnerstagmorgen lehnte Verkehrsminister Grant Shapps es ab, einen Zeitrahmen für das Lesen der Tests anzugeben.

Er war sich der Tatsache realistisch, dass es eine lange Zeit dauern könnte, und sagte Sky News: „Dies ist eine Technologie, die, um vollkommen stumpf zu sein, weiterentwickelt werden muss – es gibt keinen zertifizierten Test auf der Welt, der dies tut, aber es gibt Menschen die an Prototypen arbeiten. & # 39;

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, council chairman of the British Medical Association, said it was unclear how the so-called Operation Moonshot would work – given the 'huge problems' currently seen with lab capacity.

Although the idea is to roll out 'on the spot tests', some need to be read in a laboratory, and currently the testing system is creaking with 200,000 swab tests being carried out a day. This is set to increase to 500,000 by the end of October, the PM said.

According to the most recent NHS Test and Trace data, 452,679 people were given a swab test under Pillar 1 (hospitals) and Pillar 2 (community) in the week August 20 to 26 – less than 65,000 people per day.

One expert involved with the project said the firm was aiming to produce test results within one hour of the samples arriving at labs.

Philip Beales, a professor at the University College London Institute of Child Health, who has been helping to coordinate the efforts of smaller firms, said: 'Our guys are working on a one hour turnaround time from receipt of the sample in the lab, to getting the actual result back.'

The kit, which requires someone to spit into a tube, is easier and less painful than swabs currently used at hospitals, drive-in test facilities and in home packs.

The collection of the sample can be done anywhere – at home, work or in hospital – by the patient themselves, and the person does not need to have symptoms.

It involves the individual spitting sputum – a mixture of saliva and phlegm – into a tube and then sending it to a lab, where technicians read it for RNA – the viruses genetic information.

Professor Beale said: 'The saliva test has this inactivation buffer in the bottom, which inactivates the virus, preserves the RNA and then in thousands of (labs) in the country, you can just do a straightforward RNA extraction.'

Chronomics says it has the ability to significantly increase how many tests are conducted and is the 'solution to mass scale testing'.

And it claims the saliva test is 'super accurate'. The website says: 'Even small errors at high numbers can have dangerous consequences in the context of an infectious disease.

'Our test… is incredibly sensitive (in a controlled lab environment it can detect a single copy of the virus), it is highly specific to SARS-CoV-2 (and won't be confounded by other human viruses) and it will detect all strains of the virus that have evolved to date.'

Randox – portable swab tester saves on lab time

Randox's portable antigen test, called the Vivalytic, can process five swabs an hour

Randox's portable antigen test, called the Vivalytic, can process five swabs an hour

  • Sample type: Nose and throat swab
  • Turnaround time: 12 minutes
  • Tests per day: Five per hour
  • Accuracy: Unknown
  • Price: Unknown

The Government partnered with Northern Irish firm Randox in April to ramp up testing in the nation.

Randox's portable antigen test, called the Vivalytic, can process five swabs an hour. These are likely to be the same type of swabs currently used – that go in the nose and mouth – but processed at speed.

It has been scaled up across multiple hospitals in Northern Ireland.

The device is also used at the point of care and operated by a healthcare professional.

Randox says its device works by 'identifying SARS-CoV-2 and differentiating it from nine other respiratory infections with similar symptoms, including influenza and all known coronaviruses'.

The devices are still being trialled.

In July, 750,000 swabs were recalled after they failed to meet the required safety standards. Randox said the issue was with one of its suppliers of its swabs.

The machines which process the swabs have not been deemed unsafe.

Pregnancy test-style kits – home tests for £5 being checked by PHE

Sir John Bell, an Oxford University scientist and key Government adviser, said cheap pregnancy-style tests devices were currently being assessed by scientists at Public Health England

Sir John Bell, an Oxford University scientist and key Government adviser, said cheap pregnancy-style tests devices were currently being assessed by scientists at Public Health England

Rapid tests for Covid-19 which give a diagnosis in minutes could be approved within weeks, according to a leading scientist.

Sir John Bell, an Oxford University scientist and key Government adviser, said the cheap devices were currently being assessed by scientists at Public Health England.

He did not reveal which tests have been selected for inspection by officials, but mentioned a 'lovely test from the US' being brought in.

He claimed they could be sold on Amazon or Boots for as little as £5 if they are proven to be over 90 per cent accurate.

Professor Bell said the devices, that are 'no larger than a teacup', plug into a socket in the wall and process swabs within an hour.

One from the US which is currently under review is able to process a sample in the time it would take for a person to have a shower or eat their breakfast, he claimed.

Sir John said scientists at Porton Down – government run laboratories in Salisbury, Wiltshire, are currently assessing rapid antigen tests.

Intelligent Fingerprinting – experimental kit that uses sweat

The rapid test  scours sweat for the virus and takes just 10 minutes

The rapid test  scours sweat for the virus and takes just 10 minutes

This sweat-testing kit is not a confirmed part of the UK Government's considerations but has potential as a simple alternative to swab testing.

British diagnostics firm Intelligent Fingerprinting and Imperial College London joined forces to develop a rapid test that scours sweat for the virus.

The test is said to take just 10 minutes to produce a diagnosis. It works by collecting fingerprint sweat onto a small test cartridge for analysis. The sample is then analysed by a portable DSR-Plus analysis unit.

The machine uses sensitive lateral flow technology and fluorescence measurement methods.

Its makes say the test is more hygienic and has less chance of being done wrong because it utilises sweat samples rather than a throat or mouth swab.

It's unclear how accurate the test is or whether UK ministers are looking into it.

Nonacus – a spit test in development backed by Government funding

Birmingham-based Nonacus, who have developed a Covid-19 spit test, received the share of a £40million Government grant to speed up work.

The test involves spitting sputum into a tube – couriered or sent to a person's own home – which is then sealed and sent to the laboratory.

Nonacus said the samples obtained could be examined by a significantly higher and broader number of labs than those processing existing swabs, The Telegraph reported, because a solution in the bottom of the tube inactivates the coronavirus.

Under government rules, live samples, like those on swabs, can only be examined by labs with highly specialised equipment to avoid contamination or spread of the coronavirus.

In May, Nonacus revealed it was one of 800 companies that had been given a portion of £40million from Innovate UK, part of the £1.25billion coronavirus package first announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help UK businesses driving innovation and development during Covid-19.

It will use this validate rapid surveillance testing for Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses.

Chris Sale, CEO and co-founder of Nonacus, said: 'It will allow us to extend the technology to include SARS-CoV-2 as part of a comprehensive respiratory viral surveillance product so, if your cough is not due to COVID-19, we will be able to tell you what is causing it.'

The website said: 'Nonacus expect the product to become commercially available later this year.

'In order to support the governments back-to-work strategy and avoid a second spike of cases, accurate, real-time monitoring of the coronavirus and its spread is critical. 'This requires advanced testing methods which can be rapidly deployed across many laboratories, globally, to allow for the surveillance and monitoring of the virus within and between populations by public health institutions.'

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