A NEW 90-minute coronavirus test is 94 per cent accurate and can be done at home, experts have revealed.
The rapid testing device does not require a lab and so far the government has placed an order for 5.8 million of the kits.
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It comes as people across the country have scrambled to get tested for the virus as many sites have reached full capacity.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock this week said that tests would be reserved for those who need them most.
Chair of NHS Track and Trace Dido Harding this afternoon admitted that demand for testing was at four times the current capacity.
The new development could help people decipher whether or not they have the virus within two hours.
Scientists at Imperial College London found that high-speed tests can be performed in cartridges smaller than a mobile phone.
Researchers used the CovidNudge devices on 386 NHS staff and patients.
Analysis published in the journal The Lancet Microbe, revealed that the test had shown 94 per cent sensitivity and 100 per cent specificity.
This means that it is highly accurate and produces few false negatives and no false positives.
The sensitive gauge measures how well a test gives positive results for people who have a disease and is also an indication of how likely it is a test will produce false negatives.
Professor Graham Cooke, lead author of the study from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial said: “These results suggest the test, which can be performed at a patient’s bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing.
“Many tests involve a trade-off between speed and accuracy, but this test manages to achieve both.
“Developing an effective bedside test in under three months has been an incredible collaboration between teams of engineers, clinicians and virologists.”
Results from the test show that it has been successful across eight London hospitals and is set to be rolled out nationally.
In order to get results from the device, a nose swab which has been used by a patient suspected to have the coronavirus, is inserted into the device.
It then looks for traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19.
Conventional coronavirus testing currently offers patients results in 24 hours and the new test would deliver results in 24 hours.
It is also being developed for the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
An Imperial College start-up called DnaNudge produced the device.
It has been used on 280 NHS staff members with suspected Covid-19, 15 patients in A&E with suspected Covid-19, and 91 hospital in-patients during the peak of the pandemic.
Samples from all participants in the study were based on CovidNudge and standard hospital equipment.
The results were then compared and the experts assessed sensitivity and specificity.
The experts found that 18 per cent tested positive for Covid-19.
The results showed 67 samples tested positive on the CovidNudge test, compared with 71 positive results against standard laboratory machines, which represents the value of 94 per cent sensitivity.
Regius Professor Chris Toumazou, CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge and founder of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial, said: “The DnaNudge test was developed as a lab-free, on-the-spot consumer service that can be delivered at scale, so we clearly believe it offers very significant potential in terms of mass population testing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The platform is well suited to testing in primary care and community settings with potential for use in non-healthcare settings such as care homes, schools, transport hubs, offices, and, to help bring the arts back, in theatres and venues.
“However, further studies of real-world effectiveness in non-clinical settings would be required prior to widespread deployment.”
The device can be used in non-clinical locations after it was awarded the CE mark.
Each device has WiFi so results can be sent to a hospital’s record system.
Dr Bob Klaber, director of strategy, research and innovation at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said. “As an organisation we are focused on using research and innovation to continuously drive improvements to care.
“It’s been brilliant to work so closely with scientists, clinicians and innovators from DnaNudge, Imperial College London and the Trust, alongside many of our patients and staff, to assess the practicality and validity of this exciting test.
“Getting accurate results back to clinicians and their patients as quickly as possible makes a huge difference to how we safely manage clinical pathways and we are very much looking forward to rolling this out more widely.”