The British Government aspires to test teachers, students, health workers and residents of highly mobile neighborhoods every week to face the pandemic this winter. Waiting for a vaccine against the coronavirus, the bet now for faster tests that can even be done at home to detect early infections among the population, especially the most exposed, constantly. For this, the Government has announced that it will invest 500 million pounds (561 million euros) in deploying and improving the tests, such as the saliva tests that are already done in some British hospitals.
For now, the program will start with pilot tests in various areas of England, some focused on teachers and health workers, and others on the most vulnerable population by where they live.RELATED
Thus, in the coming weeks, the pilot test begins in Salford, a city of 220,000 inhabitants near Manchester. This is a measure to try to end the delays that are occurring to obtain results. The project will serve as a test to later scale the community tests throughout the country, according to a statement from the Department of Health.
The pilot will start with up to 250 tests per day and will expand by zones. Initially, the program will focus on a specific high-traffic location in the city, which includes commercial spaces, public services, transportation, and religious spaces. If the results are satisfactory, they hope to massively expand the project throughout the country during the winter.
The government will allocate the new funds to this pilot test and to the improvement of the tests, in particular to the trials already underway in Southampton and Hampshire, which use a saliva test and a 20-minute rapid test. Funding will also be used to further expand PCR testing capacity. All positive results will be passed on to the UK National Health Service, to trace contacts and prevent further transmission of the virus.
“Testing is a vital line of defense to combat this pandemic. We need to use every new innovation at our disposal to expand the use of testing and develop the mass testing capacity that can help suppress the virus and enable more things that make life worth living, ”said the Secretary of Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock.
Trials in Southampton and Hampshire
On the other hand, in Southampton, a city of 250,000 inhabitants in the south of the country, the weekly test model will be tested in schools. More than 2,100 students and staff from four schools will be invited to take a test as part of the second phase of a pilot program designed by the University of Southampton.
During the first phase, almost 10,000 people participated. Medical staff, university employees, and their families received saliva tests that were done at home or at their workplace. The pilot showed that the home saliva test kit is a “reliable means” for regular large-scale testing, according to the British Government.
This saliva test, called a Lampore, involves taking a saliva sample, unlike current existing methods that need nose and throat samples. The test machine, which has two sizes, is being tested at Salford and Southampton. In Galicia this type of saliva test is also being studied, in which the patient, through a kit, can collect samples of his saliva at home and then send them to be analyzed.
In addition, Hampshire is developing a study to analyze the effectiveness of a conventional swab test that gives the results of the diagnosis of COVID-19 in 20 minutes.
“New technologies and testing methods are vital for the system to continue to evolve and improve, especially as we evaluate how routine testing could help detect cases of the virus earlier,” said Dido Harding, who chairs the National Institute for Protection Health, the highest health authority in England.