UK

Rapid coronavirus test trials missed more than 50 per cent of positive cases 

Blow to Operation Moonshot as Liverpool officials abandon rapid test at the 11th hour after trial found it failed to detect more than HALF of infected cases

  • The 20-minutes test planned to form part of ‘Operation Moonshot’ programme
  • Trials have been scaled back due to accuracy concerned of the OptiGene test 
  • Scientists found high proportion of positive samples would go undetected

Operation Moonshot has come crashing down to Earth in Liverpool as one of the rapid coronavirus tests that was lined up for a mass-testing scheme has been revealed not to work.

Officials in the city have now cancelled plans to start a huge trial of Optigene Direct RT-Lamp tests, bought because they give swab results in just 20 minutes.

But, catastrophically, the tests have missed more than 50 per cent of positive cases in a trial in Manchester, meaning they risk dangerously undermining the number of people who are actually infected.

Trials in Salford were scaled back after just six weeks, in part due to concerns about the accuracy of the OptiGene Lamp test, according to The Guardian.

Scientists on Greater Manchester’s Mass Testing Expert Group reported a positive-detecting accuracy of just 46.7 per cent and found that ‘a high proportion of samples collected from infected individuals in a “real world” setting would not be detected’. 

Liverpool City Council has now said it will not use the tests which, it had been hoped, would contribute to Boris Johnson’s ambitious plan to carry out 10million tests per day next year.   

The test, which gives results in 20 minutes, was planned to form part of an ‘Operation Moonshot’ mass-testing programme in the city (stock picture)

But earlier trials in Salford were scaled back after just six weeks, in part due to concerns about the accuracy of the OptiGene Lamp test (stock picture)

But earlier trials in Salford were scaled back after just six weeks, in part due to concerns about the accuracy of the OptiGene Lamp test (stock picture)

The findings raise major questions about one of the main tests in the Government’s mass-screening strategy, which Boris Johnson this week heralded as the UK’s main route back to normality.

However, a spokesman for the Department of Health last night said the apparently alarming results of the Lamp test were based on one small trial.  

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