The Lateral Flow Test (LFT) is one of a number of new testing technologies for COVID-19 currently being trialled across the UK. It is hoped it will help identify those most at risk of spreading COVID-19 (those who are infectious, but not aware of this) and enable them to alter their behaviour accordingly, thereby breaking the chains of transmission and reducing the infection rate.
The pilot scheme, developed by Oxford in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and Durham University, will help us understand how best to use the technology and how it could be operationalised in the real world as part of broader COVID-19 testing strategies beyond the polymerise chain reaction (PCR) test.
The LFT produces results within a few minutes. Individuals swab their nose and throat to collect a sample, and then insert it into a tube of liquid for a short time. LFTs have already been validated and undergone clinical testing. If LFTs are able to detect enough people with the virus before they get symptoms, they could help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Oxford is now rolling out the Feasibility and Acceptability of community COVID-19 rapid Testing Strategies (FACTS) study within the University community to assess how to organise using LFTs on a regular basis.