News ID: 272398
Published: 0537 GMT August 03, 2020

New 90-minute tests for COVID-19 and flu 'hugely beneficial'

New 90-minute tests for COVID-19 and flu 'hugely beneficial'

Millions of the swab tests will be rolled out over the coming months.

New ‘life-saving’ 90-minute tests which can detect coronavirus and flu will be rolled out in care homes and laboratories from next week in England.

The "on-the-spot" swab and DNA tests will help distinguish between COVID-19 and other seasonal illnesses, the government said, according to BBC.

The health secretary said this would be "hugely beneficial" over the winter.

Currently, three quarters of test results are returned within 24 hours and a quarter can take up to two days.

The announcement comes as the government pushed back a July-target to regularly test care home staff and residents, saying the number of testing kits had become more limited.

Almost half a million of the new rapid swab tests will be available from next week in adult care settings and labs, with millions more due to be rolled out later in the year.

Additionally, thousands of DNA test machines, which have already been used in eight London hospitals and can analyze nose swabs, will be rolled out across National Health Service (NHS) hospitals from September.

Around 5,000 machines will provide 5.8 million tests in the coming months, the department said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock described these latest innovations in coronavirus testing as "life-saving".

He added: "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."


'Highly accurate'


Professor Chris Toumazou, cofounder of DnaNudge, which supplied the machines providing the tests, said the "rapid" and "highly accurate" COVID-19 test can be deployed anywhere "with a direct sample-to-result".

Gordon Sanghera, chief executive of Oxford Nanopore, which supplied the tests, said they have the potential to provide an "accessible global testing solution".

Regular testing of care home residents and staff was meant to have started on July 6 but officials said this might not be in place until the end of the first week of September.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "A combination of factors have meant that a more limited number of testing kits, predominantly used in care homes, are currently available for a-symptomatic retesting and we are working round the clock with providers to restore capacity."

Last month, the government withdrew one brand of home-testing kits used in care homes over safety concerns.

Meanwhile, researchers are urgently appealing for recovered patients to donate their blood plasma — in a bid to help the NHS treat people who fall ill in the coming months.

A major trial is ongoing, looking at how effective transfusing blood plasma into patients who are struggling to develop their own immune response could be as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

A further eight deaths were reported in the UK on Sunday, taking the total number of people who have died after testing positive for the virus to 46,201. However figures tend to be lower at the weekend due to reporting delays.

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