UEA is developing a COVID-19 testing kit that could be available ‘in weeks’
It takes just 50 minutes from sample to result
The University of East Anglia is developing a COVID-19 testing kit which could be available in a matter of weeks on the NHS.
The kit works from a throat swab sample and is a molecular test to determine whether someone currently has the virus.
Dr Justin O’Grady, research group leader at the Quadram Institute in Norwich, who are working in collaboration with the University on the project, hopes the kits will allow self-isolating medical staff to return to work as soon as possible and will ensure those at work don’t spread the virus further.
According to ITV News, the kit could be used in hospital anterooms and will be able to process up to 16 samples at a time. The results will be displayed on smartphones.
“With most testing, results are taking 24 to 48 hours because they’re tested centrally,” said Dr O’Grady. “It’s difficult to broadly state the testing time, but it’ll take at least a day to get results whereas we can get a test result in 50 minutes.”
O’Grady is an associate at UEA, and began development on the kit earlier this month with microbiologist Jonathan Edgeworth at Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust in London.
Developers hope the pilot will be used in tests in St Thomas’s Hospital from next week, after which it will be up to the hospital to decide whether it’s working well.
Dr O’Grady hopes the tests will be implemented in hospitals “in a week or so.”
He told ITV News: “We have to be careful of health and safety and we have to be sure we have a test that performs to a certain standard but these are extraordinary times so we would try to do that and get that process validated as quickly as we could.”
The tests, he added, will be conducted by semi-skilled healthcare professionals, and could be carried out near patients.
“We have to be careful of health and safety and we have to be sure we have a test that performs to a certain standard but these are extraordinary times so we would try to do that and get that process validated as quickly as we could,” he said.
The research is internally funded by departmental grants, with no official additional funding at the time of writing.