UNIVERSITY research has shown that implementing point of care testing in hospitals to diagnose Covid-19 is achievable.

Research by the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton has shown that point of care testing can return a result much faster than standard laboratory testing.

Point of care tests are defined as tests on a patient that happen outside the laboratory, normally at or near the site of the patient.

With the standard PCR test, samples are sent to a laboratory, with results not being available for several hours or even days later.

Using a new panel, the QIAstat-Dx Respiratory SARS-CoV-2, researchers tested 500 patients and found that they could return accurate results in an average time of around 100 minutes.

As a result, patients tested this way could be moved on to the right ward for them nearly four times quicker than those tested though laboratory PCR testing.

The trial was led by Dr Tristan Clark, Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases at the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton.

He said: “Our trial has shown that point of care testing for COVID-19 is feasible and is accurate and reliable.

“Point of care tests have major benefits over laboratory tests that would help hospitals control infections, allowing them to move patients who test positive to COVID-19 wards much faster.”

The test involves taking nasal and throat swabs which are then mixed with a liquid transport medium to deactivate the virus.

It is then placed into an analyser machine to provide an answer.

“These testing systems are available now and could be rolled out across NHS trusts in preparation for winter when the second wave of the virus is highly likely to occur.”