After the British government's failed attempt at mass testing for COVID-19, people are eager to know about its next course of action. Experts noted that the "moonshot" programme failed to take into account the upsurge of new cases as schools and businesses reopened against the recommendation of healthcare officials. However, a new test kit developed in the United Kingdom might be the answer amid the 2019 novel coronavirus crisis. It is purportedly "highly accurate" and can deliver results in just 90 minutes.

Until now, the tests accredited by regulators normally take at least 24 hours before results are published. Moreover, these require sensitive equipment housed within a controlled laboratory setting. This has led to multiple backlogs, which likewise affected the proposed roadmap for the original plan to test the bulk of the population especially in areas tagged as "coronavirus hotspots."

In contrast, the "CovidNudge" is a rapid-testing system that would hopefully allow the government to meet its targets sooner than what was earlier proposed. These are stand-alone kits that do not require labs in order to diagnose SARS-CoV-2 infections. It apparently boasts a sensitivity of more than 94 percent along with a specificity profile of 100 percent. What this means is there are no recorded instances of false positives in addition to a rare likelihood of false negatives.

Eight hospitals in London are now reportedly using the innovative device to screen patients. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently approved the purchase of around 5.8 million units, which will be used by the National Health Service (NHS) and its partners in the succeeding weeks.

Leading the study is Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London Professor Graham Cooke, who said: "These results suggest the test, which can be performed at a patient's bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing."

He added: "Many tests involve a trade-off between speed and accuracy, but this test manages to achieve both. Developing an effective bedside test in under three months has been an incredible collaboration between teams of engineers, clinicians and virologists."

COVID-19 vaccine research
China and Russia have already approved vaccines without waiting for the conclusion of trials Photo: AFP / NOEL CELIS

After collecting a nose swab sample from a patient, it is then fed into the CovidNudge device. It then scans for genetic material matching that of the 2019 novel coronavirus. So far, the only caveat is the need for trained personnel, which does not make it suitable for personal use. Nevertheless, this appears to be a promising platform that can control new transmissions.