Monday 3 August 2020 8:23 am

UK to distribute millions of 90-minute coronavirus tests

New 90-minute coronavirus tests will be distributed to care homes and laboratories around the UK from next week, the government announced today.

The speedy tests will check for Covid-19 and flu in a boost to ramp up testing capacity before winter arrives, amid fears of a second wave of cases in Britain.

Read more: Test and trace scheme misses 20 per cent of coronavirus patients

Two new tests will be made available to NHS hospitals, labs and care homes as the government tries to rapidly increase its ability to track coronavirus around the UK.

The tests will both return results for coronavirus, flu and other winter viruses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) within 90 minutes. 

And because they do not require a doctor or nurse to administer them, they can be rolled out further than current tests.

“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

“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.”

‘Gold-standard’ accuracy in new UK coronavirus tests

Genetic testing firm Dnanudge will distribute 5,000 DNA machines to offer 5.8m coronavirus tests across UK hospitals from September.

“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,” Dnanudge CEO and co-founder, professor Chris Toumazou, said.

Each machine can process up to 15 tests per day without the need for lab tests. Currently these machines are in eight London NHS hospitals:

  • 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
  • the Tower Hamlets Centre for Mental Health at Mile End Hospital

And 450,000 Lampore coronavirus swab tests will be made available by Oxford Nanopore, an Oxfordshire-based scale-up.

Swab tests to be rolled out across care homes and labs

It will roll these out across care homes and laboratories starting next week. The Lampore coronavirus tests work by processing swab and saliva samples to look for coronavirus within 60 to 90 minutes.

The swabs can be processed in labs or so-called pop-up labs at the patient’s location.

“We are honoured to be playing a part in fighting Covid-19 in the UK, and preparing the country for the winter virus season,” 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.”

Separately, the NHS said it would be offering “Covid-friendly” treatments to cancer patients, including drugs that do not have a big impact on the immune system.

Britain’s healthcare system has come under severe strain during peaks in the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, which has killed more than 46,000 people, the fourth highest toll in the world, according to a Reuters tally collated on Sunday.