Researchers have developed a new Covid-19 test that is designed to provide results in less than 10 minutes, a breakthrough that could transform the current testing process for international travel.
A team from the University of Birmingham has found that the test, called RTF-EXPAR, is “just as sensitive” in detecting the virus as PCR tests, and detects low levels of Covid-19 – which lateral flow or antigen tests cannot.
Results are produced in rapid time, reported to be under 10 minutes, and the tests could be used at airport terminals.
Professor Tim Dafforn, who is working on the project, said: “An ideal test would be one that is both sufficiently sensitive and speedy – our test, called RTF-EXPAR, achieves this goal.”
His team from the university’s Surgical Research Laboratory plans to publish full results of its research “in the future” and are reportedly looking for commercial partners to license the test and make it widely available to the public.
The news comes as The Telegraph reports travel testing firms, who currently rely on PCR testing for day two and eight tests, are failing to return up to 150,000 results a week to the NHS Test and Trace service – wasting the money of thousands of holidaymakers, with estimated costs of up to £11 million.
Tour operator TrailFinders is the latest to question the “purpose” of these expensive tests after it was revealed that only 5 per cent of positive tests from travellers were sequenced to test for new variants in July. “With only one in 1,412 tests of returning travellers sequenced, are day two and day eight PCR tests contrived to discourage travel, rather than aid health control?” wrote the operator in a recent statement.
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