Mass Covid tests trialled in Liverpool 'cut transmission by 90% & can help us get back to normal ASAP'
MASS coronavirus tests which are being trialled in Liverpool could reduce the spread by 90 per cent, experts have today revealed.
The rapid turnaround tests can also accurately detect Covid-19 in people who show no symptoms, officials said.
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Experts say they are now looking at how the new technology, which can provide results in under 30 minutes, could be self-administered.
The kits, known as lateral flow tests, have been trialled across England to find out their effectiveness, including a city-wide pilot in Liverpool which was launched last week.
The tests involve a swab of the nose and throat, just like a PCR test.
It's then inserted into a tube of liquid for a short period of time.
Drops of that liquid are then added to a strip – similar to a pregnancy test – and about half an hour later a result is shown.
Public Health England today said that their extensive clinical evaluation has proven them to be accurate and reliable enough for community-use.
Sir John Bell, professor of medicine at Oxford University, said: “‘The data in this validation report demonstrates that these inexpensive, easy to use tests can play a major role in our fight against Covid-19.
“They identify those who are likely to spread the disease and when used systematically in mass testing could reduce transmissions by 90 per cent.
These inexpensive, easy to use tests can play a major role in our fight against Covid-19
“They will be detecting disease in large numbers of people who have never previously even received a test."
The pilot, lead by PHE and Oxford University, has been putting a number of tests through a four-phase assessment process.
This includes those in Liverpool, as well as in other local communities, schools, universities and workplaces.
Initially, 40 different devices were put forward and nine went on to meet the criteria for a full evaluation.
Six made it to the third phase while the Innova SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Qualitative Test, the one being used in Liverpool, is nearing completion of the four-stage process.
PHE Porton Down’s labs have shown four lateral flow tests to have a sensitivity of more than 70 per cent of all positive cases.
The fast turnaround also allows positive people to isolate quickly also reducing spread.
Health Minister, Lord Bethell, said: “We are absolutely committed to using the latest testing technology to make asymptomatic testing available in more areas.
“I’m delighted that both are already demonstrating that lateral flow tests can be the reliable, highly sensitive technology we need to help get this virus under control, and return to as close to normality as possible.”
The evaluation published today concludes that the Innova, and other tests which meet PHE and Oxford’s standards, should be used in asymptomatic cases.
Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at NHS Test and Trace, said: “These tests are proving to be accurate and reliable.
"And, importantly they’re able to detect Covid-19 in people without symptoms who could unknowingly be passing the virus onto others.
“We are confident that these new tests, which have been rigorously evaluated, will make a real difference in how we protect people from this disease and help break chains of transmission.”
Health officials suggest that using lateral flow technology to test asymptomatic individuals could be a way to get the country back on its feet.
They can be used to help identify those who unknowingly have the virus and enable those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, which can help drive down the R rate locally and save lives.
Asymptomatic testing is offered in addition to the wider government testing programme offering swab tests for those with symptoms.
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