The UK Government has secured 20 million British-manufactured rapid Covid-19 tests in a new contract with Derby-based test manufacturer SureScreen Diagnostics. These lateral flow antigen tests produce a result in under 30 minutes and are the first British tests to be validated in the laboratory by Public Health England (PHE).
The SureScreen test will be used as part of the Government’s rapid testing programme for those without symptoms, which has seen lateral flow tests deployed across the country to test NHS and care home staff, as well as in targeted settings including schools, universities and to allow key workers to continue their vital work during lockdown.
With up to a third of individuals with Covid-19 not displaying symptoms, broadening asymptomatic testing is essential in finding positive cases who may unknowingly pass on the virus in order to break chains of transmission.
The partnerships being created with companies such as SureScreen also supports the wider resilience of the UK British diagnostics industry. The contract will create 200 additional jobs for Derby residents with roles across the whole production line as well as in the wider UK supply chain.
The tests have already been validated by PHE in the lab and are now in their final stage of validation in clinical trials. The tests have been proven to detect the B117 ‘Kent’ variant of Covid-19, and are already CE marked and MHRA approved. Results for the test at the laboratory validation stage show sensitivity against high viral loads was 97.1% and specificity was 99.9%.
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.
“It remains absolutely paramount that everyone follows the rules to stop the virus spreading further, and comes forward for rapid testing where it is offered. I thank every single person adapting and working to support and protect the country.”