UK researchers say lateral flow tests detect the most infectious COVID cases

LONDON (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. Concerns about the tests' accuracy have led some to question the plan, however.

Reuters January 21, 2021 06:10:33 IST
UK researchers say lateral flow tests detect the most infectious COVID cases

UK researchers say lateral flow tests detect the most infectious COVID cases

LONDON (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. Concerns about the tests' accuracy have led some to question the plan, however.

Some scientists have sounded alarm at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans, dubbed "Operation Moonshot", saying mass coronavirus testing is likely to be ineffective and expensive.

Lateral flow tests are less sensitive than PCR tests, which are considered the gold standard, but can return results in just half an hour. Lateral flow tests work best among those with higher viral loads - more virus detected in the nose and throat.

Looking at data from more than a quarter of a million people who have taken part in England's test and trace scheme, scientists found that the greater the viral load, the more infectious the person.

Applying previous estimates of the sensitivity of four lateral flow devices to those findings, the researchers found that the tests would detect between 83.7% and 90.5% of cases leading to onward transmission.

"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.

The researchers said they could not ascertain most of those who had been infected asymptomatically, however, "which may contribute substantially to onward transmission."

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.