The government has confirmed that a new variant of the COVID-19 virus is behind the increase in cases in south-east England.

A collaboration between Aptamer Group and Cytiva, (formerly GE Healthcare Life Sciences), will combine the partners’ expertise in developing aptamer reagents with flow technology to produce a Lateral Flow Device (LFD), which is said to be capable of generating results as a quick test for COVID-19 infection in less than ten minutes.

The project, which will support scalable non-laboratory tests for virus infections such as COVID-19, highlights the increasing prevalence that aptamers will have in the detection process of large numbers of people. Aptamers are synthetic molecules that are made from DNA or RNA that fold into unique three-dimensional structures that allow them to bind to targets with high affinity and high specificity.

The scientists also studied whether the new variant caused increased rates of reinfection. A possible case of reinfection was considered if a PCR test was positive within 90 days of a previous infection with the SARS-COV-2 virus. While only two reinfections were caused by the new variant, there were three reinfections in the other group.

LFD sites allow people to get results in an hour, which are extremely helpful for people who don’t show any symptoms. People who do not feel ill and are asymptomatic can inadvertently pass the virus to others, so this rapid test will help identify those people and help reduce the spread of the virus.

Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that lateral flow devices (LFDs) used in mass testing can detect the new COVID-19 variant2.

Propharma UK is a Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorized wholesaler and distributor for the following diagnostic test kits, used to test for the presence of novel coronavirus (COVID-19); Innovita COVID-19 Rapid Test Kit SARS-CoV-2 IgM/IgG Antibody Assay Kit, VivaDiag SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test, and SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Test.