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What is RAPTOR-C19?

RAPTOR-C19 is a research study to assess the accuracy of different rapid tests for COVID-19 for patients in the community. Our question is whether rapid tests, which give results within minutes/hours, are as accurate as standard laboratory tests.

The research will take place in GP surgeries or COVID-19 testing sites. Accurate rapid tests mean quicker decisions about patient care and self-isolation and so are key to our efforts to control COVID-19.

By evaluating rapid "point-of-care" tests in the community we will identify tests that give accurate results quickly allowing appropriate decisions about treatment and isolation to be made without delay. 
- Brian Nicholson, RAPTOR-C19 Lead researcher

Many different companies have developed rapid tests for COVID-19. Commonly these use swabs from the mouth or nose, saliva, or a drop of blood. They generate results in a short space of time, without the need of a laboratory. Some use a similar principle to how a home pregnancy test works.

Companies check their tests are safe, and that they work in experimental conditions. However, any new test needs to be evaluated in real-life settings. We will evaluate new rapid tests against the 'standard' tests for COVID-19. 

In our study, the standard tests are those recommended by Public Health England, carried out in laboratories across the country, and typically take a few days to produce results. We will know how accurate the rapid tests are for people with COVID-19 in the community once we have collected data for many different people who have received both rapid and standard tests.

Adults and children going to their GP with symptoms that might be caused by COVID-19 (past or present) will be invited to take the part in the study.  Everyone will get at least one new rapid test for COVID-19 as well the standard laboratory test and the results will be compared. We will also gather information from the medical record. All this information will be combined to determine how accurate the rapid tests are.

The ability to get accurate rapid COVID-19 test results could transform how we tackle the pandemic.

Healthcare professionals working in the community, looking after patients with symptoms would quickly find out if their patient has COVID-19. This might help them decide where their patient is cared for or whether they should consider other diseases which look similar but have different treatments, such as asthma or influenza.

Households where someone who is shielding could also take swifter action to protect those at highest risk. Rapid tests would also help adults, such as NHS workers, return to work or children return to school if we can quickly prove they do not have COVID-19. Rapid testing could be combined with contact tracing to give much more precise advice about who should self-isolate when a new case of COVID-19 is detected.

RAPTOR-C19 is looking to find tests that are accurate for people seeking help in the community by testing at their GP surgeries. The same test may not work well in other settings, like hospitals or care homes. This is why we have set up other studies to look at these areas as part of the CONDOR platform.

We hope our results will be of interest to a wide audience. Oxford University has been at the forefront of the scientific response to COVID-19 and has an excellent platform to communicate research to key government decision-makers. We also value the feedback and contribution from the public, including advisory bodies outside central government. We will use television and radio interviews, social media including twitter and online blogs/webinars to disseminate our research, as well as through peer-reviewed academic publications.