BASINGSTOKE hospital has validated a test for Covid-19 which could be used across the UK for rapid testing of the disease, which is faster than any other test currently in use.

As previously reported in the Gazette, a team from the microbiology department led by clinical scientist Stephen Kidd had a “breakthrough” at the weekend, managing to reduce the time of some tests down to five minutes.

The team, which includes numerous volunteers, has now validated the test and has announced today that it can officially detect SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, in less than 10 minutes, or can use liquid directly from a swab to obtain results in less than 20 minutes – less time that any equivalent method currently in use.

The test, developed by UK company OptiGene, was created using a simple molecular diagnostic test, which the company says could be rapidly deployed around the UK to significantly increase the capacity to diagnose the deadly virus.

Nearly 300 patient samples can be processed in an hour using a single instrument.

Basingstoke Gazette:

The test can be used from nasal and throat swabs, using isothermal LAMP technology that does not require expensive and time-consuming extraction methods.

Dr Veronica Fowler, who spoke to the Gazette exclusively about the test, volunteered her weekends with Dr Bryony Armson, to validate the test, alongside Stephen Kidd.

The doctor, who has a background in veterinary health, described the test as a “game changer”, adding: “The government wanted a rapid, simple and easily deployable test and we responded (in our spare time). This assay is not dependent on the same reagents as the other front line tests and therefore is much less susceptible to reagent shortages which is a major concern for the front line tests currently in use.

“We can achieve a result in five minutes when using RNA as the sample, or in less than 20 minutes if we use fluid directly from a swab.

RELATED: Rapid 20-minute Covid-19 test developed in Basingstoke to be trialled across Hampshire

“Bryony, Stephen and I are delighted with the validation of this assay which will be a real game changer for the NHS and rest of the world. The UK can increase testing capacity, let’s do it together. If we can do this in our spare time, just think what can be done when this tool is rolled out.”

OptiGene now plans to speak with Public Health England within the next 24 hours with the hope of the test being used around the UK to significantly increase testing of Covid-19.


Basingstoke is the UK hospital to develop live test for Covid-19

The microbiology team at Basingstoke North Hampshire Hospitals was the first non-Public Health England lab to have go live for detecting Covid-19.

Since the beginning of February, the team has been testing for the virus at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital. 

Basingstoke Gazette:

The operation is run by clinical scientist Stephen Kidd who previously told the Gazette: "Our small team of six have been working flat out. Testing has been successful, we've shared our data and are reporting to Public Health England on how we have done it.

"PrimerDesign was the first company to set up the test and we have collaborated with them to test real-life situations on patients returning from China."

Stephen said there is limited testing available in the UK and people are waiting three of four days for their Covid-19 results.

While at the hospital, because the testing is in-house, patients can get their results within a day. 

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals, previously said: “I am exceptionally proud that Hampshire Hospitals was the first non-Public Health England lab to successfully go live with testing for COVID-19 (Coronavirus) earlier this month. Our lab colleagues are hugely innovative, and they are making a big difference to our patients.

“Microbiology isn’t what comes to mind for most people when they think of hospitals, but they play a critical role, and this is just one incredible examples of how our innovation and patient care go hand in hand at Hampshire Hospitals.

“The level of expertise, determination and rapid response to a developing situation shown by our microbiology team is matched by the rest of our staff across our hospitals, who are all working extremely hard to provide the best possible care for our patients in these challenging times.

“We were in a fortunate position to be able to link with a local company in Chandlers Ford, PrimerDesign, who partnered with us to provide the testing kits needed and we are very delighted that we could join forces to make this a reality so quickly.”