NEW YORK ─ The UK government announced on Monday that it has secured 20 million rapid COVID-19 antigen tests in a contract with SureScreen Diagnostics.
The test, manufactured by Derby, UK-based SureScreen, is part of the UK government’s rapid testing program for people who are asymptomatic.
The program is facilitating the deployment of lateral flow tests across the UK to test NHS and care-home staff. It is also being made available at targeted settings including schools and universities, the UK government said.
The lateral flow tests, which provide a result in less than 30 minutes, are the first British-made tests to be laboratory-validated by Public Health England, the UK government added.
The test, now in its final stage of validation in clinical trials, has demonstrated sensitivity against high viral loads of 97.1 percent and specificity of 99.9 percent. Further, the test showed that it can detect the B.1.1.7 Kent County COVID-19 variant, a strain believed to be more contagious than the primary strain.
The SureScreen test is CE marked and has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The contract with SureScreen will create 200 additional jobs for Derby, UK residents with roles in production and the wider UK supply chain, the UK government said.
SureScreen is a member of the UK Rapid Antigen Test Consortium, a growing coalition of industry scientists and manufacturers aiming to secure lateral flow tests and manufacturing capability for the UK.
The announcement on Monday follows one in January that SureScreen would deliver 2 million lateral flow antigen tests to the UK government for use in mass testing.
Further, the UK government said last month that it would begin countrywide testing for patients who may have SARS-CoV-2 but may not display any symptoms.