A hospital has become the first in the UK to start using a quicker coronavirus test for staff and patients. The Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge has begun to use the new Samba II machines, which give results in 90 minutes as opposed to the current 24 hours.
Developed by a University of Cambridge spinout company called Diagnostics for the Real World, the rapid diagnostic test for Covid-19 is capable of diagnosing the potentially-deadly infection in under 90 minutes.
The tests will be used by healthcare workers at point-of-care in order to rapidly diagnose patients, directing those who test positive for the infection to dedicated wards. The quick and efficient testing would also help identify which healthcare workers are infected, enabling those who test negative to return to the front line.
The SAMBA II machines, developed by Diagnostics for the Real World are designed to provide a simple and accurate system for the diagnosis of COVID-19 infection.
Faster than existing tests, the SAMBA II are used at point-of-care and not sent off to a lab for analysis.
The machine does not look for antigens - parts of a virus that trigger the immune system's response to fight the infection. The tests also do not look for antibodies - proteins made by the immune system in response to an infection.
Instead, the machine looks for tiny traces of genetic material belonging to the virus, amplifies it and then uses it to detect an infection.
The machines have shown to be almost 99% accurate at analysing swabs and give a result in just 90 minutes, compared to current PCR tests which take up to two days.
Samba's creators say the tests have been validated by Public Health England and are expected to be launched in hospitals across the country.
Ten of these portable devices, Samba Two, were this week deployed at the 1,000-bed Addenbrooke's Hospital to test staff and patients.
The machines are expected to be made available to a number of hospitals across the country thanks to a £2.3 million donation from billionaire philanthropist Sir Chris Hohn to purchase 100 machines.