As reports emerge that a national lockdown could be announced next week as coronavirus cases surge across the country, the need for accurate testing is more important than ever.
A track and trace app could be one of the best solutions to the growing problem, as it will allow those who could have been exposed to quickly test and isolate to prevent spreading the virus further.
But this depends on just when the track and trace app will be up and running, whether people can get access to a test and just how accurate the test results are.
How accurate are COVID tests?
According to Oxford University Hospitals, the test currently used by the NHS is not 100% accurate, however, it is thought to detect approximately 70% of coronavirus infections.
The UK announced two new coronavirus tests last month that are thought to deliver results in just 90 minutes.
Rolled out in hospitals, care homes and laboratories, the swab and DNA tests are hoped to be helpful in dealing with the virus in winter, enabling clinicians and NHS Test and Trace to differentiate between Covid-19, which requires sufferers to undergo specific self-isolation, and other seasonal illnesses, the Department of Health said.
Almost half a million of these LamPORE swab tests were made available in August.
Meanwhile, thousands of DNA test machines, which have already been used in eight London hospitals and can analyse nose swabs, will be rolled out across NHS hospitals from this month.
The machines – supplied by DnaNudge – are expected to provide 5.8 million tests in the coming months, the department said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Millions of new rapid coronavirus tests will provide on-the-spot results in under 90 minutes, helping us to break chains of transmission quickly. The fact these tests can detect flu as well as Covid-19 will be hugely beneficial as we head into winter, so patients can follow the right advice to protect themselves and others.
However, New Scientist reported that no accuracy figures have been reported for these tests.
The publication did report though that a spokesperson wouldn’t reveal the results of trials, or how accurate the test is when compared with standard tests, but accuracy data is being prepared for publication.
It is thought that each test will have a different level of accuracy, and as trials and further insight into the virus is learnt, it’s possible that tests could become more accurate.