U.K. Says It’s Developing Fast Test for Covid-19 Variants

The U.K. government is developing new testing technology that would identify whether positive Covid-19 test samples contain variants of concern, and provide more rapid results.

The “genotype assay test” would halve the time it takes to identify the variants and could be used in addition to standard testing to find cases more quickly, the U.K. government’s health ministry said in a statement Monday.

The government’s road map to easing lockdown restrictions calls for controlling the new strains. Once the variant cases are identified, surge testing, enhanced contact tracing and other actions can then be taken to suppress the spread.

“The progress made so far developing these new genotype assays is very encouraging and I am confident we will see positive outcomes from piloting this technology,” Health Minister Lord Bethell said. “Using this test to identify known variant of concern cases has the potential to accelerate our knowledge and understanding of variants of concern and halt their spread across the country.”

The technology could be deployed to track the variants of most concern, even as new mutations are identified, the ministry said.

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