Cambridge team develop test that can diagnose Covid-19 in less than 90 minutes

  • Click below to watch a video report by ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson

New testing devices developed by a Cambridge team that can diagnose Covid-19 in less than 90 minutes are being used at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

The portable machines, called Samba II, have been developed by a University of Cambridge spin-off company called Diagnostics for the Real World.

10 are currently being used at Addenbrooke's Hospital this week but researchers said their tests, which have been validated by Public Health England, are expected to be launched in hospitals across the country.

Credit: ITV News Anglia
The Samba test can give results in 90 minutes- rather than 24 hours. Credit: ITV News Anglia

It comes as the Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock announced that the government's goal is to test up to 100,000 people per day by the end of the month, stressing that 'Our ultimate goal is that anyone who needs a test can have one.'

'The new national effort for testing will ensure that we can get tests for everyone who needs them and I am delighted that the pharmaceutical industry is rising to this challenge, putting unprecedented resources into testing,' he said.

Credit: Diagnostics for the Real World.

Researchers say Samba can deliver a diagnosis in less than 90 minutes while current tests can take 24 hours or longer.

Once nasal and throat swabs have been collected from patients, the samples will be loaded into the machines, which look for tiny traces of genetic material belonging to the coronavirus.

They claim that tests in 102 patient samples were shown to have 98.7% sensitivity (ability to correctly identify positive cases) and 100% specificity (the ability to correctly identify negative cases) compared with the current NHS test.

It comes as the govt announced a major testing programme. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The machines will be used by healthcare workers as well as other patients suspected of having Covid-19 across the country.

It comes as the first patients from Addenbrooke's and the Royal Papworth Hospitals are enrolled on a national trial to find treatments for Covid-19.

Doctors describe the trial as "our best chance" of fighting the virus with medication.

Dr Mark Toshner at work. Credit: Dr Mark Toshner

Dr Mark Toshner is a lecturer at the university and a consultant at the Royal Papworth.

His brother is also a doctor and is currently recovering from the virus after contracting it working on the frontline in London.

Dr Toshner says the virus will impact all of us in some way - and that has made researchers at the University of Cambridge more determined.