Rapid Covid-19 test trialled in care homes

A rapid Covid-19 test that promises results in under an hour is being trialled in care homes.

The clinical trial, led by Queen Mary University of London, will be carried out in 50 care homes in London with up to 2,000 staff, visitors and residents.

The trial aims to find out how effective rapid testing is at reducing rates of infection, hospitalisation and deaths from coronavirus.

An elderly man's hands
Care home residents, staff and visitors will be tested daily on rapid testing machines (Joe Giddens/PA)

Other trials of rapid tests have been ongoing, including one on up to 4,000 people led by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

For the London trial, residents, staff and visitors in 25 care homes will be tested daily on rapid testing machines, which each have the capacity to process up to 100 samples a day.

Meanwhile, as a comparison, the other 25 care homes will receive the standard central laboratory testing once a week.

Professor Jo Martin, from Queen Mary University of London, who is leading the study, said: “This work has the potential to bring a new rapid Covid-19 testing system to those at highest risk, and help interrupt community transmission.

“If found to be successful in care homes, it could be very useful in a wide range of settings, helping to make a quick diagnosis and keep an environment free of Covid-19.

“With rapid daily testing, we can report back to the care home on the same day, so that they can take action to reduce transmission in their care home and prevent outbreaks into the wider community.

“By undertaking this study in the diverse east London community, we’re hoping to protect one of the most vulnerable groups in the UK, and the frontline staff who are caring for them.”

The Novacyt Q16 PCR machines used in the trial are designed to be smaller and more mobile than traditional PCR machines, meaning they can be taken to individual sites.

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