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NHS Will Roll Out COVID-19 Tests From DnaNudge, Oxford Nanopore Across UK

NEW YORK – The UK's Department of Health and Social Care announced Monday it will roll out two new rapid COVID-19 tests to hospitals, care homes, and laboratories ahead of the winter cold and flu season.

Both tests, from DnaNudge and Oxford Nanopore Technologies, can detect SARS-CoV-2 in 90 minutes, as well as other winter viruses, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), DHSC said in a statement. Neither test requires a trained professional to operate, allowing for use in non-clinical settings.

Under the £161 million ($210 million) order, DnaNudge will supply 5,000 Nudgebox machines to National Health Service hospitals starting in September to run 5.8 million COVID Nudge tests in the next few months, and Oxford Nanopore will provide 450,000 LamPore swab tests to adult care facilities and laboratories beginning next week, scaling up to "millions more" later in the year.

The handheld Nudgebox machines analyze SARS-CoV-2 DNA in nose swabs and can process up to 15 tests per day without a laboratory. The firm's single-chip test, which was validated in April and recently obtained CE marking, also detects influenza A, influenza B, and RSV, CEO Christofer Toumazou said. It exhibited 98 percent sensitivity and 100 percent specificity, DnaNudge said in a statement.

Currently, the DnaNudge machines are operating in eight hospitals in London, including Charing Cross Hospital, Royal Hospital Chelsea, and West Middlesex University Hospital. According to the NHS, "the government is signing contracts with more companies to produce machines for DNA coronavirus testing." The Imperial College startup uses biochemistry, microfluidics, electronic circuits, and miniaturization based on smartphone technology to analyze and map users' genetic profiles.

Oxford Nanopore's LamPore test can be used on swab and saliva samples to detect SARS-CoV-2 in 60 to 90 minutes. It has the same sensitivity as most PCR tests, and the company is currently pursuing CE marking for the test. The firm's desktop GridIon machine can process 15,000 tests per day, and the mobile MinIon instrument can process 2,000 tests per day.

Results from positive tests will be shared with NHS Test and Trace so people who have been in contact with those infected can self-isolate, the agency said. Oxford Nanopore added that the program will help UK officials understand different use cases for the technology, including potential asymptomatic screening of frontline workers. 

Oxford Nanopore said it is also developing a LamPore respiratory panel to detect multiple pathogens in addition to SARS-CoV-2, including influenza A, influenza B, and RSV.