New contract secured with Derby-based manufacturer for validated lateral flow antigen tests, ensuring supply for UK over coming months.
The UK government has secured 20 million British-manufactured rapid coronavirus (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:
Lord Bethell Minister for Health, said:
David Campbell, Director of SureScreen, said:
SureScreen is a member of the UK Rapid Antigen Test Consortium, a growing coalition of industry scientists and manufacturers, who have come together to secure lateral flow tests and manufacturing capability for the UK. A secure supply line for the UK for these tests is vital for ensuring the continuation and expansion of rapid regular testing programmes which, alongside vaccine roll-out, will be key for getting people back to work, education and friends and family.
Professor Chris Molloy, Chair UK Rapid Antigen Test Consortium, said:
The kind of large-scale community testing that these tests facilitate is part of the government’s COVID-19 winter plan to identify those who may be infectious with coronavirus earlier in order to break the chains of transmission and keep the virus under control. Alongside the rollout of vaccines, rapid regular testing will be key in time to getting people back to doing the things they love.
Lateral flow antigen tests work by taking a sample from the nose or back of the throat and testing that sample for the presence of antigens, the signature proteins of the virus. They show results visually, in the same way as many pregnancy tests. Antigen testing can tell someone whether they currently have the virus that causes COVID-19, and produce results in under 30 minutes.