Rapid £10 Covid 'bubble test' launched for groups of up to 10 people

10 November 2020, 15:20 | Updated: 11 November 2020, 09:51

The DnaNudge Covid Bubble Test can be used on groups of up to 10 people
The DnaNudge Covid Bubble Test can be used on groups of up to 10 people. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A rapid £10 coronavirus test which can be used on "bubbles" of up to 10 people at once has been launched in the UK.

The testing kit is has been made available for people without symptoms of Covid-19 and will return results in just 90 minutes.

DnaNudge, an Imperial College London spinout company who produced the test, announced it is now taking online bookings for tests in its store in London's Covent Garden.

The firm also said that a postal at-home service will be launched across Britain "within weeks".

Up to 10 people who are part of a family, friends, work or other close contact bubbles can be tested simultaneously on the same cartridge at a cost of £10 per person, the company added.

The Covid Bubble Test uses reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technology, with another version, CovidNudge, having already been rolled out in the NHS.

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It involves collecting nasal and throat swabs from those being tested and placing them on a cartridge which fits in a shoebox-sized device - known as a NudgeBox - where it will be analysed.

The machine then detects whether or not there are traces of genetic material that belong to Covid-19 from anyone in that pool.

If it finds a positive test within a group, each person's swab will be processed to determine who tested positive for the virus.

DnaNudge said it had successfully used the technology to test up to 40 people at once in some cases, including for the London Symphony Orchestra.

The UK Government placed an order worth £161 million in August for a package consisting of 5.8 million cartridges and 5,000 NudgeBox machines.

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Due to its portable design, the test can be performed in someone's house without the use of a laboratory.

DnaNudge chief executive and co-founder regius professor Chris Toumazou said the company had worked "tirelessly" to develop a test that was "successfully boosting the country's rapid testing capacity and helping to improve patient and staff safety right across the NHS".

He added: "By making this transformative test more widely accessible, at very low cost, our aim is to help improve the detection of asymptomatic yet infectious individuals and to support the huge effort to bring this virus under control and move us all forwards toward safety and a return to normality as soon as we possibly can."

The CovidNudge test can correctly identify positive cases with a 94 per cent success rate and correctly determines negative cases every time, according to findings published in the journal Lancet Microbe in September.

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