New Covid Test Shown to Give Accurate Results in 90 Minutes

A girl reacts while getting a nasal swab sample at a testing and screening facility for the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

(CN) — A new Covid-19 test from the United Kingdom produces results in 90 minutes and has been shown in a study to have a high level of accuracy and to produce very few false negatives and no false positives.

The study, published Friday in the journal The Lancet Microbe, was led by scientists from Imperial College London. The high-speed tests, which do not require a laboratory and can be performed in cartridges smaller than a cellphone, were used on 386 National Health Service staff and patients.

The lab-in-cartridge rapid testing device, called the CovidNudge, is a test that can be performed at a patient’s bedside. The CovidNudge was tested on 280 NHS staff members with suspected Covid-19, 15 patients in emergency wards with suspected Covid-19, and 91 hospital patients — some of whom were not displaying Covid-19 symptoms.

To perform the test, a pediatric-sized nose swab from a patient is inserted into the CovidNuge device, which then looks for traces of genetic material belonging to the SARS-COV-2 virus, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Each device is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing the test result to be securely sent to a hospital’s record system.

Testing for this study took place between April 10 and May 12, 2020, at two NHS hospitals in London and one in Oxford. The samples from all individuals in the study were analyzed on both the CovidNudge and on standard hospital laboratory equipment, and then the results compared.

The research team assessed sensitivity and specificity of the new test compared to standard lab testing. Sensitivity is a measure of how well a test gives a positive result for people who have disease and is an indication of how likely a test will produce false negative results. Specificity, on the other hand, is a measure of a test’s ability to give a negative result for people who don’t have the disease and is an indication of the likelihood of false positive results. After analysis, it was found that the CovidNudge had over 94% sensitivity, and 100% specificity.

Dr Bob Klaber, director of strategy, research and innovation at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said, “Getting accurate results back to clinicians and their patients as quickly as possible makes a huge difference to how we safely manage clinical pathways and we are very much looking forward to rolling this out more widely.”

The testing device, produced by DnaNudge, is currently being used successfully across eight London hospitals, and due to be rolled out at a national level. The U.K. government recently placed an order for 5.8 million of the testing kits. 

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