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Covid test that doesn't use painful swabs 'better than lateral flows'

A new Covid test said to be better than a lateral flow could become the new first line of defence against the virus in hospitals — and it doesn't require a painful swab. 

Oxford University experts claim they have developed an AI-based test that can spot the virus and give a result in as little as 10 minutes without a throat or nose sample.

All that is required from a patient is a routine blood test, which is already collected for virtually everyone admitted to hospital. 

A major study of the test – known as CURIAL-Rapide – on 72,000 NHS patients found it correctly ruled out the infection 99.7 per cent of the time.

The researchers said this was a fifth more accurate than lateral flow devices, which are currently the most commonly used rapid test.

When carried out at the bedside of patients, the new test could give a diagnosis in just 10 minutes — compared to the half an hour it takes on average for a lateral flow.

In emergency departments CURIAL-Rapide produced results in 45 minutes by the time a sample was taken and processed.

This was quicker than the hour it took for lateral flows, which if negative need to be cross-referenced with a PCR.

Many large hospitals have lab facilities where they can process PCR tests — the gold standard of Covid testing — on site.But CURIAL-Rapide could make a 'particularly big difference' in small hospitals which don't have that luxury and need to send away for results, the Oxford experts said.

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© Provided by Daily Mail 

Lead researcher Dr Andrew Soltan, a clinician and machine learning researcher at Oxford, said: 'Many of our patients coming to the ED are in the most vulnerable groups. 

'CURIAL-Rapide is exciting because it uses new near-patient testing to collect all the data needed for a prediction by the bedside in 10 minutes, cutting out the time for transporting samples to a lab. 

'This means infected patients are identified sooner, while patients being admitted with other conditions can be quickly and safely transferred to wards where they are less likely to be exposed.

'This technology can help hospitals run more smoothly and may make a particularly big difference for smaller hospitals where there isn't a lab on-site. 

'CURIAL is an example of how the collaborative strength of the NHS, bringing together universities with hospital groups across the country, is helping to build an evidence base for safe and responsible use of clinical AI.' 

The AI test uses routine blood tests and vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure to look for signs of viral infection.

The Oxford team are in the process of applying for funding from the Department of Health for a national rollout.  

The device was trialled at five hospitals in Oxford, Birmingham, Portsmouth and Bedfordshire between December and March. 

Dr Alex Novak, lead consultant for emergency medicine research at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the results were 'exciting'. 

He added it had 'the power to rapidly translate into tangible benefits for patient care and optimise service performance at the frontline'.

Professor David Clifton, study co-author, said: 'The University has demonstrated that it has risen to the challenge posed to society by the Covid pandemic, and this AI-driven tool being implemented for use in Emergency Departments is a great example of how we and the NHS can work together to produce something of lasting value to patients.

'With the emphasis moving to living with Covid every year, research collaborations delivering tools such as CURIAL are the future for our field.

'Our recently-announced Pandemic Sciences Centre will be a key means of supporting such collaborations in future, with the goal of getting us to a state of advanced preparedness for the arrival of new diseases or variants.' 

diagram: When carried out at the bedside of patients, the new test could give a diagnosis in just 10 minutes ¿ compared to the half an hour it takes on average for a lateral flow. In emergency departments CURIAL-Rapide produced results in 45 minutes by the time a sample was taken and processed. This was quicker than the hour it took for lateral flows, which if negative need to be cross-referenced with a PCR

© Provided by Daily Mail When carried out at the bedside of patients, the new test could give a diagnosis in just 10 minutes ¿ compared to the half an hour it takes on average for a lateral flow. In emergency departments CURIAL-Rapide produced results in 45 minutes by the time a sample was taken and processed. This was quicker than the hour it took for lateral flows, which if negative need to be cross-referenced with a PCR

Britain's daily Covid hospital admissions breach 1,000 for first time since February 

More than 1,000 Covid patients were admitted to hospital in a single day in the UK last week for the first time since February, official data shows as the country's daily cases grew again and deaths fell.

In its usual daily update, the Department of Health and Social Care revealed that 1,019 people were hospitalised with the virus across the UK on August 25.

It marks the first time there have been four-figure Covid admissions since February 24 when the second wave was being brought under control and the jab rollout was just gaining momentum. 

Reference: Daily Mail: Connor Boyd Assistant Health Editor For Mailonline 

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