OptiGene’s RT-LAMP tests highly sensitive, says govt
LONDON (UK) – The government said on Tuesday that a coronavirus test, which does not require a nasal or throat swab, has been found to be highly effective in spotting cases, including for people not exhibiting any symptoms.
British firm OptiGene’s RT-LAMP tests were studied in a pilot programme in Southampton where they were used to screen health service staff and 55,000 people connected to the university there.
“We’ve shown through carefully conducted studies that the OptiGene LAMP test is fast, reliable and easy to use, and dependent on testing format can work directly with saliva samples as well as with swabs,” said Sue Hill, chief scientific officer for England in the National Health Service’s Test and Trace programme.
LAMP stands for Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification, the technology used in the test. They can give results more quickly than the conventional gold standard PCR tests. In the pilot programme, the tests were used in four configurations, involving swabs as well as saliva.
According to the health ministry, the LAMP tests were found to have a sensitivity of 79% and specificity of 100%. This signifies that they were effective in spotting infected people and who were most likely to infect others.
“In samples with a higher viral load, the sensitivity of the test increased to 94% for saliva and 100% for swabs,” according to the ministry.
Sensitivity refers to the proportion of people with an illness that test positive. Specificity is the proportion of people without the disease.
Head of the pilot programme Professor Keith Godfrey of the University of Southampton’s Epidemiology Unit said take-up had been very high among students and reactions positive.
“The saliva LAMP project in Southampton has proved to be very easy for students to use, and is extremely popular with parents and staff,” he said.