Britain Planning to Fund Expansion of Rapid COVID-19 Test Trials

On Thursday, Britain said it was investing to make rapid COVID-19 tests. The decision is in sync with a view to soon rolling out widespread, systematic testing to spot outbreaks early. All this is happening amid criticism over backlogs in its existing testing system.

The hope of Expanding Trials

In early August, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock declared that the country will roll out two new tests that can detect the novel coronavirus in 90 minutes in hospitals, care homes, and laboratories.

The Department of Health also stated at that time that the swab and DNA tests will help deal with the virus in winter, enabling clinicians and NHS Test and Trace to differentiate between Covid-19, which needs patients to undergo specific self-isolation, and other seasonal illnesses.

The health ministry claimed it would inject 500 million pounds ($666 million) into trials of rapid COVID-19 tests and population-testing for the deadly disease.

Health minister Matt Hancock has said he hopes mass testing utilizing faster COVID-19 tests can be launched towards the end of the year, adding that they are very crucial in restoring freedoms after months of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I want to solve the problem by having the next generation tests at a radically bigger scale. You can’t do that on the current technology very easily,” he said in an interview. Asked when it would be accessible for everyone, he stated: “Over the coming weeks and months ahead. We’re starting the roll out today.”

“Right Time for Scaling up the Testing”

The funding is expected to be used to widen current trials of saliva tests and a rapid 20-minute test in southern England. At the same time a new, community trial in Salford, northwest England, will assess the merits of population-testing, according to which people are regularly tested regardless of whether they have symptoms so that any cases can be identified up before they have spread widely.

Currently, official health service advice is only for citizens to get a COVID-19 test if they have symptoms. However, more regular testing is available for certain professions, such as care workers and doctors.

However, the government has faced a lot of criticism after some who tried to book tests were reportedly told to travel many miles as capacity is directed where the need is maximum.

“The time was right to think about scaling up testing to the wider community and asymptomatic testing over the summer when we were relatively COVID-secure,” Alan McNally, Professor of Microbial Evolutionary Genomics at the University of Birmingham, said in an interview.

“Ideally we would be far more advanced in our ability to handle, what we’re already beginning to see, an increase in requirement for COVID testing.”