Government will use saliva-based tests

Spit for Britain! Government will use saliva-based tests to check 4.5million people a day for Covid by December as part of £100bn Operation Moonshot

  • Companies putting forward ideas make ‘3.0 million saliva collection kits per day’
  • Saliva test allows people to avoid uncomfortable swabs currently being used
  • Operation Moonshot pledged increase tests by around 12-fold by early next year

The Government is set to use a ‘gargle-and-spit’ test for Covid-19 as part of Matt Hancock’s pledge to test 4.5 million people per day. 

The Department of Health and Social Care last week allowed companies to put forward ideas to make ‘circa 3.0 million saliva collection kits per day’.

The saliva kits will come on top of ‘circa 1.5 million swab collection kits per day’ and all tests need to be ‘packaged in a way that can fit through a standard UK letterbox’ so they can be done at home. 

The simple saliva test – involving spitting into a tube – would allow scores of nervous patients to avoid uncomfortable swabs currently being used to identify the virus.

The proposals would help accomplish the government’s £100billion ‘Operation Moon Shot’ which pledges to increase daily tests by around twelve-fold by early next year to give the country back its ‘freedom’. 

The Government is set to use a ‘gargle-and-spit’ test for Covid-19 as part of Matt Hancock’s pledge to test 4.5 million people per day (file image)  

Saliva testing could provide a cheap alternative to the current method being used across the world which involves a long cotton- bud-like stick, which is inserted high up into the nose or back of the throat, that then has to be sent to a laboratory for analysis. 

Testing a patient’s spit could also be a better method as saliva has higher quantities of the virus, The Times reports.

The throat and nose could also have lingering amounts of the RNA virus – which is less likely to be picked up in a saliva test. 

Testing the saliva from a group of people – such as all children in one classroom – may also be an option, a method known as ‘pooling’.

The group would all have to isolate if the collective sample came back positive.

Discussions between the Government and biotech company Halo are currently in place. The aim is to have the company able to do 500,000 tests a week.

Halo – whose factories have been hailed as more efficient than the swab laboratories currently in place – said the £50 tests are half the cost of those involving swabs and results can be returned five hours after the sample gets to the lab.

The proposals would help accomplish the government’s £100billion ‘Operation Moon Shot’ which pledges to increase daily tests by around twelve-fold by early next year to give the country back its ‘freedom’. Pictured: Matt Hancock

Current home testing kits can take three days.

Last month it was revealed that a ‘gargle-and-spit’ test has been developed by experts at Sheba Medical Centre, Israel’s largest hospital.

Scientists there claimed their matchbox-size machine analyses samples in just one second. 

Patients trialing the new test were asked to gargle a small amount of a special mouthwash, which they then spit into a tube. 

The sample was placed inside the machine, called SpectraLIT, which analyses it to provide a diagnosis almost instantly.

Early results from a trial involving 400 people show it can distinguish between positive and negative Covid-19 samples with 95 per cent accuracy.

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