An evaluation of OptiGene’s RT-LAMP Covid-19 tests carried out by NHS trusts and universities has confirmed its high sensitivity to the virus. The British government has also confirmed that the technical and clinical assessment of the tests were found to be highly sensitive. The tests can identify the infection without using a nose or throat swab and is also useful for asymptomatic people.
Earlier, the government had introduced a testing kit in April for taking a nose and throat swab. This test could be undertaken by the person themselves or he/she could be assisted by someone else.
What is the RT-LAMP test?
The technology that has been used to develop this test is known as loop-mediated isothermal amplification, also referred to as LAMP. The private British company named OptiGene has developed this test.
The test has been studied through a pilot programme on health service staff in Southampton’s southern English city. Also, 55,000 people connected to the local university were tested. Four different arrangements were involved in the tests, including swabs as well as saliva.
How effective is the test?
The LAMP tests have been found to be highly effective. They have proven to produce results far more quickly than the gold standard PCR tests that are commonly used.
The chief scientific officer of England in the NHS’s Test and Trace programme, Sue Hill reconfirmed that carefully conducted studies had shown that the LAMP test of OptiGene can be easily used and is fast and reliable. The saliva samples, as well as swabs, can be used directly in testing format.
The LAMP tests were found to be 79 per cent sensitive and 100 per cent specific, said the health ministry. This means they were effective in identifying infectious people. The sensitivity of the test increased to 94 per cent for saliva and 100 per cent for swabs in case of samples with a higher infection of the virus.
Sensitivity refers to the proportion of patients who test positive and specificity indicates the proportion of the ones who tested negative. The measures are also helpful in identifying the level of false negative or positive cases.
Keith Godfrey, professor – epidemiology, University of Southampton, said that the test’s take-up was high among students who have shared positive reactions. Godfrey headed a part of the pilot and added that the saliva LAMP project in Southampton became popular among the parents and staff, and its use has become popular with the students.
Established 12 years ago in Horsham in the South of England, OptiGene Limited is a privately owned company that helps in developing and delivering advanced molecular diagnostics solutions to be used across a wide array of market sectors.
In the past, the company has been successful in developing products which can detect sensitive and specific bacteria and viruses, which can be further used in the fields of food safety, healthcare, and environmental issues.