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UK roll out of rapid COVID-19 tests

The UK Department of Health and Social Care announced on Monday that it will roll out two new rapid COVID-19 tests across the NHS ahead of the cold and flu season.

With the continued threat of coronavirus, international efforts to quickly develop and manufacture a safe and effective vaccine are of paramount importance. Without a vaccine and a fully operational NHS Test and Trace scheme, the need for accurate and quick testing is more important than ever.

As a result, the UK announced that millions of ground-breaking rapid coronavirus tests will be rolled out across hospitals, care homes and laboratories within the UK to increase testing capacity ahead of the winter season. This will enable faster delivery of results and will help to quickly control transmission of the virus.  

The two tests from DnaNudge and Oxford Nanopore can detect SARS-CoV-2 in 90 minutes. The tests are also said to detect other winter viruses including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The benefit of these tests is that they do not require a trained professional to operate them; therefore, they enable use in non-clinical settings.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated:

“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.”


The government will be supplied with 5,000 Nudge tests from the Imperial College London start-up DnaNudge. The COVID Nudge test is an RT-PCR test integrating advances in biochemistry microfluidics, electronic circuits and miniaturisation-based smartphone technology. The test is said to have 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity as it uses a control assay for human RNA to eliminate ‘false negative’ results by testing for inadequate swabbing. The portable device can process up to 15 tests per day outside of a laboratory and will start to be rolled out into NHS hospitals in September.

Oxford Nanopore

Oxford Nanopore will provide 450,000 of its novel LamPORE swab tests to adult care facilities and laboratories beginning next week. The LamPORE test can be on both swab and saliva samples and can detect SARS-CoV-2 in 60 to 90 minutes. Oxford Nanopore’s GridION desktop device can process 15,000 tests per day and the MinION mobile instrument can process 2,000 tests per day. The test has the same sensitivity as most RT-PCR tests. The company is also developing a LamPORE respiratory panel to detect in one sampleSARS-CoV-2 alongside multiple other pathogens, including influenza A, influenza B and RSV.

The details of positive results will be shared with the NHS Test and Trace to ensure that close contacts can self-isolate in line with government guidance.

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