A coronavirus test that yields results in just over an hour and does not require laboratories is being implemented in several London hospitals, after receiving regulatory clearance. It can potentially test many more people in a short time.
At a time when the UK is trying to increase the number of tests to outline a recovery in the economy, the country still mostly uses laboratory tests that take about 48 hours to produce a result and that often require people to travel by long distances to regional centers or receive the result by mail, at home.
Faster tests will allow more people to get back to work or provide more frequent assessments, which would help Prime Minister Boris Johnson to reach his goal of 200,000 tests a day, an important point in ending local confinement.
The new form of detection, based on a DNA test developed by a professor at Imperial College London, was approved by the regulatory agency in late April.
With a sensitivity of over 98% and specificity of 100%, the DnaDudge test is being carried out in oncology, accident, emergency and maternity wards, as a prelude to possible massive application.
The British Ministry of Health said it was a pilot scheme and that other laboratory tests were also being tried. The NHS, the UK’s public health system, also uses other machines to test for coronavirus.
The country placed an initial order for 10,000 DnaNudge cartridges in March and has purchased another 70,000 since then. The price of each cartridge is approximately 49 dollars, or 270 reais.
“The key is that with this test, you go straight from a salivary or nasal collection to the cartridge, without transport and without a laboratory,” said Chris Toumazou, professor of engineering at Imperial College who developed the test.
“You can even look at small fragments of RNA (ribonucleic acid) and check whether a patient is leaving or entering Covid,” he said.
The test, which requires a nostril sample, is being applied at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, West Middlesex University Hospital, St Mary’s and Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital.
“This test works and is more sensitive than some performed in the laboratory,” said Dr. Gary Davies, medical director at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. He said the test is being used for incoming patients, so they can decide which ward they should be placed on.
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