A new £500 million funding package will be invested in next generation testing technology and increased testing capacity.
- Government commits £500 million for COVID-19 test trials using latest technology
- New community-wide testing pilot launched in Salford and existing pilots expanded in Southampton and Hampshire
- Funding will also support the scaling up of testing capacity ahead of winter
A new £500 million funding package will be invested in next generation testing technology and increased testing capacity, the Health and Social Care Secretary announced today.
To date, our large-scale COVID-19 testing system has carried out more than 16 million tests and this new funding for quick result test trials and repeat population testing will help take the programme to the next level.
A new, community-wide trial in Salford will launch imminently to assess the benefits of repeat population testing. Existing, promising trials in Southampton and Hampshire, using a saliva test and a rapid 20-minute test, will also be expanded using the new funding.
By using this cutting-edge technology to widely roll out rapid tests, chains of transmission will be broken almost immediately by delivering on-the-spot results. Successful trials will then be expanded and rolled out more widely.
The funding will also be used to further extend capacity for existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing across the country. All positive results will be passed to the NHS Test and Trace system, to trace contacts, prevent further transmission, and save lives.
Craig Whittaker MP said:
This announcement demonstrates that testing is a key component of the Government’s COVID-19 response.
Data reveals that the UK has now carried out more COVID-19 tests than any other European Union member state. The Government’s £500 million funding boost will build on this progress by developing new technologies to increase testing capacity. This will further improve test accessibility.
In Calderdale, our local testing rate is much higher than the national average. This is having a positive impact on Calder Valley residents, because identifying and isolating confirmed COVID-19 cases helps to reduce community transmission.
I therefore look forward to seeing the huge benefit that will result from this welcome investment.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Testing is a vital line of defence in combating this pandemic. Over the past 6 months we have built almost from scratch one of the biggest testing systems in the world. We need to use every new innovation at our disposal to expand the use of testing, and build the mass testing capability that can help suppress the virus and enable more of the things that make life worth living. We are backing innovative new tests that are fast, accurate and easier to use and will maximise the impact and scale of testing, helping us to get back to a more normal way of life.
I am hugely grateful for the work being done on this national effort to strengthen our ability to tackle this virus. While we work on a vaccine we must innovate our way out of this crisis.
New technology will be the driving force to break the chains of transmission, aiming for tests that are easy to complete, or can give results in minutes. New tests will be limited to certain settings as trials continue. Trials will also look at the benefits of mass testing, and how the testing programme can be improved and scaled up ahead of winter.
Trials across the country will now be launched or extended, with the latest starting in Salford today.