New rapid COVID-19 test being examined
The trial of a new, rapid coronavirus test will begin in Hampshire. The new test, which has been proven effective in clinical settings, does not need to be sent to a laboratory to be processed and can return results within 20 minutes. The test will be rolled out to a number of A&E departments without access to laboratories, GP coronavirus testing hubs and care homes across Hampshire.
Receiving results on site will mean people with symptoms will be given immediate certainty as to whether or not they have the virus, and will mean they can rapidly follow advice to stay at home if they test positive, or return to work. Up to 4,000 people of all ages and backgrounds will participate in the pilot, which will run for up to six weeks. It will be led by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust, and trained health professionals will take a swab and process the results on-site. Hampshire Hospital NHS Trust will work closely with local authorities to identify priority care homes to visit and test.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“This new test could provide accurate results almost on the spot. This will enable health and care workers to carry on with their shift or immediately isolate on the same day, and could eventually offer the same benefit to the whole country. This could change the way that we control covid-19 across the country, getting those with negative results back into society as quickly as possible.
“I am hugely grateful for everyone in Hampshire for making this innovation possible.”
In contrast to the widely used PCR tests, which need be processed at different temperatures, the loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) swab test does not require a change in temperature to detect results, which means it can be processed on-site instead of being sent to a laboratory.
Validation for the LAMP test using RNA extract has already been carried out in a clinical setting at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Following a successful clinical trial, the rapid test will then be rolled out more widely if the pilot in Hampshire proves effective.