Coronavirus: Government orders 50 million new testing kits after development 'breakthrough'

George Martin
·3-min read
NHS staff carry out coronavirus tests at a testing facility in Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
NHS staff carry out coronavirus tests at a testing facility in Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln. (PA)

Reports the government has ordered 50 million new coronavirus tests after scientists in Oxford made a “breakthrough” in developing the new form of kit have been welcomed by ministers.

According to the Mail on Sunday, the new immunity tests have been devised by researchers working for the government-backed Rapid Testing Consortium.

Once they go into mass production, up to one million of the new “lateral flow” tests are expected to be produced each week.

The kits will cost £10 and tell users if they have coronavirus using a similar two-line system to pregnancy tests.

 A lab technician holding a test tube that contains blood sample from a patient that has tested positive with the COVID-19 coronavirus. The hospital is currently carrying out between 400-500 tests a day for suspected cases of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Coronavirus testing are to patients free of charge in the Netherlands. (Photo by Robin Utrecht / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
An Oxford-based consortium reportedly made a breakthrough in developing the kits. (PA)

Users will reportedly provide a pinprick of blood for analysis and be given the results after a 20-minute wait.

A source reportedly told The Mail on Sunday the development of the tests represented a “breakthrough moment” which they hoped would allow the government to “turn the tide on the virus”.

Health minister Nadine Dorries described the reports as a “gamechanger”, saying it was “fantastic to see our scientists & business community taking on challenge of #COVID19”.

Lord Bethell, also a health ministerm, described the research as a “step in the right direction”.

It comes as the government seeks to hit its 100,000-a-day testing target by next Thursday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told the Downing Street daily briefing on Saturday that 28,760 tests were carried on Friday.

It comes as the military is to begin operating mobile coronavirus testing units which will travel to care homes, police stations and prisons across the UK.

The mobile facilities can be set up in less than 20 minutes and allow for hundreds of people to be tested each day.

Specially-trained members of the armed forces will collect swabs at the mobile sites before they are sent to "mega-labs" for processing, with results available within 48 hours, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

National testing coordinator Professor John Newton added: "New mobile testing units will help us achieve our goal of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day, providing tests to vital frontline workers wherever they need them.

"In a matter of weeks, we have worked with Britain's leading scientists, academics and industry partners to build scores of new testing facilities and Britain's largest network of diagnostic labs in history."

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