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SureScreen secures Covid test contract
Derby-based test manufacturer SureScreen Diagnostics has secured a government contract to manufacture 20 million rapid coronavirus tests. These lateral flow antigen tests produce a result in under 30 minutes and are the first British tests to be validated in the laboratory by Public Health England (PHE).
The SureScreen test will be used as part of the government’s rapid testing programme for those without symptoms, which has seen lateral flow tests deployed across the country to test NHS and care home staff, as well as in targeted settings including schools and universities.
With up to a third of individuals with Covid-19 not displaying symptoms, broadening asymptomatic testing is essential in finding positive cases who may unknowingly pass on the virus in order to break chains of transmission.
The contract will also create 200 additional jobs in the Derby area, with roles across the whole production line, as well as in the wider UK supply chain.
The tests have already been validated by PHE in the lab and are now in their final stage of validation in clinical trials. The tests have been proven to detect the B117 Kent variant and are already CE marked and MHRA registered. Results for the test at the laboratory validation stage show sensitivity against high viral loads was 97.1% and specificity was 99.9%.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, said: “Rapid lateral flow tests strengthen our national response to the virus significantly, helping us to identify the around 1 in 3 people who are asymptomatic and break chains of transmission in our workplaces and communities. It is excellent to be working with a UK firm to deliver millions more of these rapid tests.
“I am committed to bolstering onshore UK manufacturing capabilities. The brilliant work done by SureScreen, and the contribution it will make to our rapid testing programme, is another example of the home-grown talent, ingenuity and industry that exists right here in the UK.”
David Campbell, director of SureScreen, added: “We believe our rapid antigen tests can really help in screening people both in the community and in clinical settings. Routine testing is crucial to help business, as well as hospitals and GPs. We are delighted to be working with DHSC on this project and that our tests have been recognised by the government and its scientists. We look forward to doing all we can to help the UK going forward in 2021.”
SureScreen is a member of the UK Rapid Antigen Test Consortium, a growing coalition of industry scientists and manufacturers, who have come together to secure lateral flow tests and manufacturing capability for the UK. A secure supply line for the UK for these tests is vital for ensuring the continuation and expansion of rapid regular testing programmes which, alongside vaccine roll-out, will be key for getting people back to work, education and friends and family.
Lateral flow antigen tests work by taking a sample from the nose or back of the throat and testing that sample for the presence of antigens, the signature proteins of the virus. They show results visually, in the same way as many pregnancy tests. Antigen testing can tell someone whether they currently have the virus that causes Covid-19, and produce results in under 30 minutes.