COVID-19: Derby-based company to produce 20 million rapid result coronavirus tests
Written by Hitmix News on 8 February 2021
A diagnostics company in Derby has become the first British manufacturer to supply COVID-19 tests to the government.
Twenty million lateral flow coronavirus tests have been ordered from SureScreen Diagnostics.
They’ll be used as part of the government’s rapid testing programme for people without COVID-19 symptoms, and deployed across the country to NHS and care home staff, schools, universities and work places.
Image: Rapid tests can deliver results in 10 minutes
Once droplets from a nasal swab are placed onto the test it gives a result in 10 minutes.
“We’ve been working very hard since March last year and we’re just delighted that we’re able to supply these tests to the UK for the benefit of people in the UK,” said David Campbell, one of the directors of SureScreen Diagnostics.
“The key with lateral flow testing is because they’re very cost effective, very easy to use and very quick to get results, you can have your own testing programme very quickly, so a number of businesses across the UK are looking to stop an infection before it even breaks out.”
Lateral flow tests are used for people without COVID-19 symptoms. They differ from the tests that are given to people with symptoms, which involve a sample being sent to a laboratory for analysis.
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It’s hoped that alongside the vaccine rollout, mass rapid testing will help life to return to normal.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Rapid lateral flow tests strengthen our national response to the virus significantly, helping us to identify the around one in three people who are asymptomatic and break chains of transmission in our workplaces and communities. It is excellent to be working with a UK firm to deliver millions more of these rapid tests.
“I am committed to bolstering onshore UK manufacturing capabilities.
“The brilliant work done by SureScreen, and the contribution it will make to our rapid testing programme, is another example of the home-grown talent, ingenuity and industry that exists right here in the UK.”
But doubts were raised about the effectiveness of rapid lateral flow tests after a programme of mass testing in Liverpool found only just under half of cases of the virus were detected in people without symptoms.
Dr Gabriel Scally, a visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol and a member of Independent SAGE, told Sky News: “Lateral flow tests have a role to play but it’s a very specific role because they do miss a lot of cases. They are very good at detecting people if their virus levels are very high.
“The problem comes if the lateral flow is negative can you be sure it really is negative? And that’s the problem – you can’t.
“It could be 40-50% have been missed – maybe more – of people who do actually have the virus, but it doesn’t show up on the tests so there is a danger of them providing some degree of false reassurance.”
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Mr Campbell says his firm’s test is not designed to replace laboratory based tests but to work alongside them to allow people to get quick results.
The company is now recruiting 200 more staff in order to scale up production of the tests in order to fulfil the government contract.