Surrey students and staff trial 20-minute Covid test

A new 20-minute Covid test developed by three UK universities is being trialled by students and staff at Surrey University.

covid test

Virus Hunter 6 (VH6) is a joint effort of Brunel, Lancaster and Surrey universities, created in collaboration with commercial partner Vidiia Ltd. Claimed to be 99 per cent accurate in lab trials, the device can test up to six samples simultaneously and uses LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification).

This method employs a single-tube technique that amplifies the nucleic acid of the virus using nasal and oral swab samples and is said to be quicker and easier to perform than PCR technology.

According to Surrey University, a unique buffer used in the device reduces processing time, makes handling samples safer and removes the need to send samples to a laboratory. VH6 uses a mixture of swab samples, image processors and AI, all shared with a mobile app, which reduces testing times and possible errors with result interpretation.

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To trial the new Covid test, Surrey University will require 1,000 samples from its staff and students, who have decided to remain on campus as well as those returning to essential teaching programmes. Data gathered from this testing will help validate the test for potential mass use in the future.

“Developing a highly accurate COVID-19 test that delivers rapid results has been a priority since the beginning of this pandemic,” said Roberto La Ragione, Professor of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology at Surrey University.

“Initial results from our testing have been very encouraging; the next stage of its development is to begin testing on a large scale. I am delighted that this will take place on our campus and that our staff and students will be a part of this vital step in combatting the impact of COVID-19.”

David Rimer, CEO of Vidiia, added: “Testing on this scale is a welcome opportunity for Vidiia to further evaluate the VH6 testing product, software and algorithm that the team and universities have worked so hard on over the past nine months.

"We are now at an exciting stage of our journey to provide point-of-care LAMP testing far and wide to control the spread of COVID-19, and I would like to thank the staff and students at [Surrey University] for contributing to testing such a critical product.”