A leading health laboratory has developed 'detailed' mass coronavirus testing kits for the UK, which promise results in just five hours which could be a huge step forward in fighting the disease.
Northern Ireland-based Randox Laboratories, one of the UK's leading diagnostics companies, says it is in talks with Public Health England about rolling out the tests.
More information is expected within the coming days, the company told Daily Star Online.
It comes as the number of people dying from COVID-19 is rising day on day, and currently stands at 463.
In a preliminary statement a company spokesman said: "Randox are currently in negotiations with Public Health England about them procuring the tests."
Many of the tests have already been rolled out to clinics and hospitals in the UK, he said – it is not known which.
The tests were first launched three weeks ago and so far "10,000 have been deployed in the fight against the coronavirus across the world", the spokesman said.
If given the green light it is expected Randox will roll out testing kits across the UK, and see them in 40 countries worldwide within 14 days.
The spokesman said: "Randox launched one of the most rapid and detailed tests for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), which is presently being used in clinics and hospitals in the UK, China, Japan, Spain, Italy, the Philippines and 13 other countries.
"Unlike all other tests currently available, Randox’s test can identify the lethal pandemic-causing coronavirus strain and differentiate between other non-lethal variants."This will enable clinicians to better understand "whether or not a patient requires more serious medical treatment," the spokesman said.
He added the company expects "within a fortnight to have their tests being used in over 40 countries".
The tests are also said to be fast because Randox systems can process multiple patient samples at the same time.
The spokesman continued: "Importantly, results become available in less than 5 hours as the tests are analysed by the Randox Evidence Investigator, which is a semi-automated analyser that is capable of processing 54 patient samples simultaneously."
He added Randox's CEO was keen to see "more rigorous and detailed testing" prioritised as part of the government's strategy to contain the killer virus.
"British medical technological leadership should now take the lead and should get the acknowledgement and support it deserves from Government," the spokesman said.
He added that there are huge "scientific efforts being put in behind the scenes" in the race to roll out mass testing.
Other British companies are also keen to help develop tests to help in the mission to beat the virus.
Prototypes of a coronavirus antibody test which could be a game-changer in the fight against the pandemic are being assessed and are ready to be optimised, the developer of the technology said on Thursday.
Antibody tests are designed to establish whether people have previously been infected, as opposed to antigen tests which show if someone actually has the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus.
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Health technology firm Mologic said assessment and validation of its COVID-19 diagnostic test had begun this week at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and St Georges hospital, and that global partners would also examine the prototypes.
Britain has bought 3.5 million antibody testing kits from different suppliers, and is currently making sure they work before distributing them.
A health official told MPs on Wednesday that such test kits would be available within days to be sent to households, perhaps via Amazon, saying that an unnamed prototype was being validated in Oxford this week.
But the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty later dampened expectations that the tests would be available on the internet next week, saying that the only thing worse than no test was a bad test.
Asked why Britain bought 3.5 million tests which might not work, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said: "If we are able to find an antibody test which works that could be a game-changer."
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"For that reason you will understand that government is doing everything that it can to seek to find a test which works," he added.
Mologic, which is based near Bedford, said that after assessment in Britain, the prototypes would be shipped to validation partners in China, the United States, Malaysia, Spain, Brazil and Senegal.
Meanwhile a test developed by SureScreen Diagnostics, based in Derby, claims to be 98% accurate in determining if a person is infected with coronavirus, costs £6 and can be used in 10 minutes.
As of 9am on 25 March 2020, a total of 97,019 people have been tested, of which 87,490 were confirmed negative and 9,529 were confirmed positive.
Of those tested 463 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died.
The number is expected to take another jump by the end of Thursday after the government cited delays in releasing the latest figures.
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