Large-scale antigen testing can play a key role in helping to prevent the spread of the virus in all settings, notes Peter Harrison

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The covid-19 pandemic has brought an intense focus on diagnostics, highlighting the importance of accurate and timely diagnosis.

With high infection rates and lockdown restrictions in the UK, extensive antigen testing is proving to be key in helping to prevent the spread of the virus in all settings, enabling a rapid start to contact tracing.

In addition to the health sector, many essential businesses are keen to protect their workforce and maintain operations in a safe way, such as those in the construction, transport and food distribution industries.

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Rapid antigen testing contributes to overall covid-19 testing capacity and also provides advantages in terms of shorter turnaround times and reduced cost when compared to other testing methods.

The need for a rapid turnaround of results, however, must be balanced with the quality of the test, specifically around sensitivity and specificity. These factors will be key in supporting effective testing of the population not only during lockdown, but also in helping organisations restore normality when restrictions are gradually eased.

A point-of-care cassette test distributed by Siemens Healthineers allows samples to be collected easily from the front of the nose and delivers accurate results in just 15 minutes. Once a sample is collected, the swab is inserted into a tube with special liquid to extract the target molecule. The CLINITEST Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test has been shown to provide 97.3 per cent sensitivity and 100 per cent specificity, giving reassurance over the accuracy of results.

Medical charity Cobalt Health provides diagnostic imaging services to over 100,000 patients each year and is working closely alongside NHS England as it responds to the demands of the covid-19 pandemic – providing additional capacity and supporting the continuity of cancer pathways. To ensure the charity could continue its work throughout the pandemic in as safe a way as possible for its patients and staff, it introduced covid-19 antigen testing for its employees.

“Cobalt Health wanted to introduce an accurate test that was easy for staff to use,” states Cobalt chief executive Peter Sharpe. “The CLINITEST Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test, delivered by Siemens Healthineers, was the natural choice, thanks to its high sensitivity and specificity.

“Furthermore, the nasal swab sampling method, and the fact that no lab personnel or equipment are needed, makes it far easier for all staff to get tested. We are delighted to be one of the first imaging providers to introduce the new rapid antigen test, ensuring continuity of service at a time when our support to the NHS is so critical.”

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