The first UK-manufactured lateral flow tests for COVID-19 are being rolled out to universities in England. The tests, which return results in less than 15 minutes, have been developed by Derby-based SureScreen Diagnostics with assistance on the assembly process from Scottish firm Omega Diagnostics.

The tests are the first UK-made lateral flow devices (LFDs) to be validated by Public Health England in a laboratory setting. The rollout of tests to universities began in August and should help to benefit both students and university staff by providing quick, efficient detection of asymptomatic COVID-19, helping to reduce the spread of the virus.

SureScreen has the capacity to produce around 7 million tests weekly, an output that it plans to double by the end of 2021. Along with universities, SureScreen’s LFDs have also been used in other settings such as contact testing and prisons.

Helped by government orders and growing demand for rapid COVID-19 tests, SureScreen has been able to create 378 new jobs in Derby and the surrounding area.

UK Health Security Agency Chief Executive Jenny Harries said: “Testing – along with vaccines – is one of our first lines of defence against COVID-19 and in the months ahead rapid tests will keep fortifying these defences, as thousands of university students use them to check whether they are infectious and likely to transmit the virus, all at lightning speed.”

“As we return to a more familiar way of life, testing, and isolating when necessary, remain a vital way of controlling the spread of the virus and protecting one another."

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