With UK researchers reporting that lateral flow tests detect the most infectious Covid cases, are we likely to see widespread testing used by businesses and commercial companies once they are allowed to re-open?
As reported by Reuters - Rapid lateral flow tests will likely identify the most infectious COVID-19 cases with higher viral loads despite concerns over the overall sensitivity of the tests, Oxford University researchers said on Thursday, as the British government eyes mass testing to ease the current lockdown.
Along with the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, the government has cited widespread testing, including lateral flow tests, as a key part of its plans to re-open the economy.
The advantage of lateral flow tests is they return results in less than half an hour and they work best among those with higher viral loads - more virus detected in the nose and throat.
Scientists have discovered after reviewing data of more than quarter of a million people 'the greater the viral load, the more infectious a person'.
“We know that lateral flow tests are not perfect, but that doesn’t stop them being a game changer for helping to detect large numbers of infectious cases sufficiently rapidly to prevent further onward spread,” said Tim Peto, Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford.
It appears mass lateral flow testing will help us achieve higher detection rates more quickly and reduce onward transmission.
Free Testing Extended
The UK government recently extended its offer of free testing for companies with more than fifty employees, if they register here. They have also activated a large number of free testing centres in local communities.
It is possible, if lockdown is eased in the coming weeks and months, companies with less than fifty employees will not want to lose time asking employees to visit testing centres and may adopt in-house testing on a regular basis to guarantee employee and colleague safety.
Will this result in a requirement for healthcare professionals to be employed or engaged over video technologies (Zoom/Teams etc) to oversee testing? Current guidance for rapid test kits, including the Acon® Flowflex Antigen Rapid Testing Kits, is that testing is carried out by healthcare professionals only.
It certainly seems to make sense for mass widespread testing to occur on an ongoing basis, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the strategies to 'live with Covid' going forwards.