A rapid coronavirus test is being developed which can quickly detect which variant a patient is carrying to help in the fight against mutations.

The new method, which involves a minor update to current PCR tests, is being put through clinical trials by experts at biotechnology firm Novozymes in Denmark.

The modified protocol can decipher whether a person has the strain which first arose in Kent before spreading across the UK.

And can also detect the South African and Brazilian mutations, the developers have said.

Stephanie Oerum, research scientist at Novozymes, said: "We have written a new protocol for the current PCR screening that only requires one additional component and are now testing this in a clinical set-up on patient material.

A protected health worker holds one of the test tubes used to carry out random PCR on people
The modified test was developed by biotechnology firm Novozymes

"We are working as fast as we can. It's a challenge, but a good one. It's about helping people and stopping the new variants from spreading."

She said the company was contacted by a leading professor in virology and immunology at the University of Oxford about creating the new technology.

Others who had enquired about the possibility of the modification included the head of Genomic Medicine at Rigshospitalet, one of Denmark's largest hospitals.

An employee works in a mobile laboratory of Contogene, a medical testing company
The new technology is being tested in a clinical set up

And one of the country's experts in oligonucleotide research and PCR testing, said Dr Oerum.

"They asked us to develop a screening method that can detect the mutations in the new variants, whilst still being compatible with the current PCR protocol," she explained.

Chief science officer and executive vice president of research and development Claus Crone Fuglsang said the team quickly got on board.

"We have the capabilities to help, as we did in the original PCR testing setup," he continued.

"It is what we do, we help the world with biology."