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30th Sep 2020

COVID-19 test that gives results in 15 minutes cleared for use in Europe

Wil Jones

It has been called “game-changing”

A COVID-19 test that gives you a result in just 15 minutes has been approved to be sold in countries in Europe that require the CE safety marking.

The test is produced by Becton Dickinson and Co, who announced that the product had been cleared for European use on Wednesday.

It is expected that the COVID-19 test will go on sale at the end of October.

The CE marking is required in the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the UK (until the end of the Brexit transition period, at least).

Fernand Goldblat, BD’s head of diagnostics for Europe, said: “It is really a game-changing introduction here in Europe.”

“Unfortunately I think we’re headed back [to the levels of COVID seen in April]. So the need will be extremely high.”

The BD Veritor System, which is about the size of a mobile phone, provides a reliable test result in 15 minutes. It works by identifying antigens on the surface of SARS-CoV-2.

The test involves taking a nasal swab from patients with COVID symptoms.

The new test produces results much quicker than the polymerise chain reaction (PCR) tests that are used most commonly at the moment. PCR test work by detecting the genetic information of the virus, which means the person must be actively infected. They look for the antigen, as opposed to the body’s immune response.

The PCR tests are relatively labour intensive, requiring multiple steps, which leaves room open for error.

The new rapid test also looks for antigens, but does so much faster.

Antibody tests, on the other hand, tell you if “you have been infected with coronavirus in the past.”

“It is not clear if being infected in the past means a person is immune and they cannot get infected with coronavirus again in the future,” notes the advice on the UK government website. “It is also not clear if they can pass the virus onto others.”