UK Conducting Whole-City Testing to Slow Third COVID-19 Wave
Testing Asymptomatic and Pre-Symptomatic People
The UK Government is rolling out whole-city testing and screening beginning in Liverpool in a partnership with Innova Medical Group, Inc. (IMG) utilizing its INNOVA SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Qualitative Test Kits. This lateral flow antigen test uses nasal and throat swab samples to screen for infection, with highly-accurate results in as little as 15-minutes with 98.98 percent accuracy in asymptomatic individuals as per UK Government data.
The test can be easily and safely administered anywhere, on both asymptomatic and symptomatic people, without costly delays and the need for a full-scale laboratory. With its low cost per test, about the same as a coffee and biscuit in London, at-risk populations and many with inequitable access to healthcare, can achieve peace-of-mind with a negative result.
Dr. Susan Hopkins, Incident Director at Public Health England, said: “The tests we are using in Liverpool are accurate, especially in finding people who are infectious at that moment in time and so are more likely to pass it on to others. Part of the purpose of working with Liverpool to roll out whole city testing is to better understand how these tests work in the field, improve understanding of why people get tested, and the impact of this approach on reducing the transmission rate.”
Using the National Health Service (NHS COVID-19) app, people can book a test and later input their test results. Individuals taking part in the rollout of Operation Moonshot will be notified of positive or negative results by text or email. With this important test-and-trace system in place, public health authorities can diagnose cases, isolate infected patients, trace their contacts, and implement stringent infection control policies to reduce outbreaks.
With colder months and the holiday season ahead, the risk of virus transmission accelerates with more indoor gatherings and travel. If people do not know they have COVID-19, it is unlikely they will take precautions to prevent virus spread. Research studies show that to achieve disease control both asymptomatic, people who are infected but never develop symptoms, and pre-symptomatic, infected people who develop symptoms later, must be isolated.
Under Operation Moonshot, the UK Government hopes to flatten the curve by employing proactive, rather than reactive, measures in its COVID-19 response. Up to 1-in-5 coronavirus infections present with no symptoms, but they are still contagious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says up to 40 percent of infected people are asymptomatic and should be tested if they have been exposed. Typically, a person develops symptoms 5 days after being infected; however, infectivity was found to be highest a day before symptom onset. After symptoms, such as a cough, fever, and shortness of breath, first appear, a person can remain contagious for at least ten days.
The Innova Rapid Antigen Test quickly identifies infectiousness. The lateral flow test can identify people with a high viral load who are the most likely to spread the virus. Daniel Elliott, President of Innova Medical Group, Inc., said, “Our lateral flow device incorporates a German nitrocellulose membrane partially composed of nanoparticles of colloidal gold. This advanced, proprietary technology combined with our room temperature reagent, allows testing at point-of-care settings such as workplaces, universities, and airports.”