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UK-Based $1.6M Program to Evaluate Performance of SARS-CoV-2 Tests in Clinical Settings

NEW YORK ─ UK-based University of Oxford on Wednesday announced the launch of a multicenter national program to evaluate how new SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests perform in hospitals, general practices, and care homes.

The £1.3 million ($1.6 million) research program, led by the University of Oxford and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, has been named the COVID-19 National DiagnOstic Research and Evaluation Platform (CONDOR). It will create a single national route for evaluating tests and bring together experts with experience in generating the evidence required for a test to be used in the UK National Health Service (NHS), University of Oxford said.

"Right now, there's a critical gap in how we road-test new diagnostics for COVID-19," Gail Hayward, coprimary investigator and associate professor at University of Oxford, said in a statement.

A new diagnostic test might work well in a lab under controlled conditions, but many different factors could make the test less accurate when you take the test out of the lab, she noted. "These include the range of ways that COVID-19 can present itself, from non-symptomatic carriers to post-symptomatic people who have recovered; the range of other illnesses people might have; and the challenges of performing tests in a busy clinical environment."

The program will use the many tests developed by the life sciences industry to detect current infection or find out whether someone has been previously infected. The research will assess multiple diagnostic tests at once at sites across the UK and can be adapted to add new tests as they become available, University of Oxford said.