Derby-based test manufacturer SureScreen Diagnostics will supply 20 million rapid Covid-19 tests inside a new contract with the UK Government.
These lateral flow antigen tests create a result in under 30 minutes and are the first British tests to become validated in the laboratory by Public Health England (PHE).
The SureScreen test is going to 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 and including third of individuals with Covid-19 not displaying symptoms, broadening asymptomatic tests are essential in finding positive cases who may unknowingly spread the virus in order to break chains of transmission.
The partnerships being made up of companies such as SureScreen also supports the wider resilience of the UK British diagnostics industry. Anything will create 200 additional jobs for Derby residents with roles over the whole production line plus the wider UK supply chain.
The tests have already been validated by PHE in the lab and are now within 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 registered. 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 recognize the around one in three those who are asymptomatic and break chains of transmission within 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 made by SureScreen, and the contribution it will make to our rapid testing programme, is yet another example of the home-grown talent, ingenuity and industry that exists right here in the UK.
“It remains absolutely paramount that everybody follows the rules to stop the virus spreading further, and comes forward for rapid testing where it is offered. I thank each and every person adapting and working to aid and protect the country.”
Lord Bethell Minister for Health, said: “From the very beginning of this pandemic we've worked with UK manufacturers to aid the resilience of UK diagnostics. It’s fantastic that UK industry originates together to help us all react to Covid-19 to help stop the spread of the virus.
“I am hugely grateful for the considerable work that has been and will continue to be done by British suppliers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs to support our enormous scale from testing. Surescreen’s rapid tests will help prevent the spread of infection, while supporting jobs and the UK industry across the country.”
David Campbell, Director of SureScreen, said: “We feel our rapid antigen tests can really help in screening people both in the community and in clinical settings. Routine testing is crucial to help business, in addition to hospitals and GPs.
“We are delighted to be working with DHSC about this project and that our tests happen to be recognised by the Government and its scientists. We look forward to doing all we can to help the UK going forward in 2021.”