Scientists from the University of South Wales were able to create a portable machine that can analyze coronavirus swabs and give results within 20 minutes. It costs only less than £100 ($124) to manufacture and currently evaluated by experts to ensure its reliability.
Known as the PCR test, the kit works by tracing the DNA of the virus through a nasal swab. Moreover, this kit is different from an antibody test that looks for signs of past infection.
Presently, Britain is conducting 20,000 tests every day, which is considered to be less than what is expected given that the country is running out to meet the government's pledge of 100,000 a day.
Testing in Britain
Daily Mail reports that the Department of Health of UK has released figures showing 19,316 COVID-19 tests that were carried out on April 20. Since January, the time when Britain started their swab tests on suspected patients, the country has already done more than 500,000 tests.
Statistically speaking, the UK has carried out 5.54 tests for every 1,000 people, which is lesser than Turkey who carries out 7.14 tests. UK's testing is also 20 times lesser than Iceland, which has the highest testing rate in the world, and tests 124 people out of every 1,000.
The problem now lies in experts to look for ways to carry out testing at a much faster rate. The University of South Wales in the UK has developed a test that can analyze more samples and give results quicker once it is given at hospitals in the UK.
The Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board is currently evaluating the test and could be in use at its care homes after a couple of weeks.
It is said that some of the problems the UK that can affect the testing rate are the shortages of staff, swabs and chemicals, and also the government's slow response to the crisis.
Portable machine that can process tests at a faster rate
The machine was previously made four years ago for diagnosing urinary tract infections. According to Dr. Jeroen Nieuwland, one of the creators of the kit, that they have been developing their diagnostic platform for a few years already so they already know how it works which will help them to quickly convert it to detect underlying virus for COVID-19.
More so, he also said that the portable machine will be able to either help or further spread, or allow staff to go back to work sooner.
His colleague, Dr, Emma Hayhurst, also said that the machine has the potential to be used even wider than the health care workers because it can ramp up to large-scale community testing. Aside from that, the test is also affordable and simple to use.
UK's 100,000 tests quota
Health officers have only just ten days to increase its daily quota of 100,000. The health secretary said that they would be able to achieve their six-figure target each day earlier this month. Michael Gove, the cabinet office minister said that the capacity of labs has been ramped up to cater to around 38,000 tests a day, and dozens of labs more are offering their services.
However, Gove said that the capacity might be used to its full extent because only less than half is tested every day. It comes after a Nobel-prize winning economist, Paul Romer from New York University, said that the government should increase their testing rate by offering £1billion prize to any lab that can process 10million coronavirus tests a day.
Several private labs have already that can do thousands of testing in a day and have offered their services to the government but have only fallen on deaf ears.