A new rapid test can accurately diagnose a coronavirus infection within 90 minutes without needing a specialist laboratory, scientists claim.
An Imperial College London study showed the “lab-on-a-chip” gave comparable results to current tests. The device is being used in eight hospitals to quickly identify patients who are carrying the virus.
However, experts warn that the kit will not be a solution to the beleaguered Test and Trace programme.
The device, developed by the company DnaNudge, can be used by anyone capable of taking a swab of the nose or throat.
The swab is placed inside a disposable blue cartridge which contains the chemicals needed for the test.
This in turn is slotted into a shoebox-sized machine to perform the analysis.
The study, published in the Lancet Microbe, compared results when samples from 386 people were given both the DnaNudge and standard laboratory tests.
“The performance was comparable, which is very reassuring when you’re trying to bring in a new technology,” said Prof Graham Cooke, from Imperial College London.
“Many tests involve a trade-off between speed and accuracy, but this test manages to achieve both.”
If the lab tests said the patient was free of the virus, so did the rapid test. If the lab tests said the patient had the virus, the rapid test agreed 94% of the time.
UK has requested 5,000 devices and 5.8 million of the disposable cartridges.
However, there is a major drawback as each box can handle only one test at a time. So during a day, one box could perform around 16 tests.