Coronavirus: Addenbrooke's Hospital using 'game-changer' test machine

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Addenbrooke's HospitalImage source, PA
Image caption,
The machines are funded by a donation from a businessman and Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge has obtained the first 10

A hospital has become the first in the UK to start using a quicker coronavirus test for staff and patients.

Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge has begun to use the new Samba II machines, which give results in 90 minutes as opposed to the current 24 hours.

The test has been adapted from an on-the-spot HIV test.

Businessman Sir Chris Hohn - who donated nearly £2.5m to roll the test out nationwide - said it could be a "game-changer".

Professor Ravi Cupta, from the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease, told the BBC: "We're expecting a large number of cases in the next few weeks and rapidly diagnosing patients with or without Covid-19 will enable us to triage much more effectively at the front door.

"That is going to be critical to maintaining safe and effective care for these individuals."

The Samba II machine looks for tiny traces of genetic material belonging to the virus, amplifies it and then uses it to detect an infection.

It is faster than existing tests, some of which look for antigens - the components of a virus to which antibodies bind - or antibodies, which show that an individual is currently or has previously been infected.

Patients provide a nasal and throat swab and Addenbrooke's said it will help direct those who test positive for the infection to dedicated wards.

The hospital added it would also identify healthcare workers who have the disease and help those who test negative to return to the front line.

Sir Chris Hohn's donation will enable the purchase of 100 Samba II machines and Addenbrooke's has obtained the first 10.

Dr Helen Lee, CEO of Diagnostics for Real World, which developed the test, added: "Our goal has always been to make cutting-edge technology so simple and robust that the Samba machine can be placed literally anywhere and operated by anyone with minimum training."

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