With coronavirus cases in the UK rising rapidly again, it is vital to have fast, reliable testing for COVID-19. However more research is needed to identify which of these new tests are the most promising for different scenarios. Allocating and placing these new tests within the most appropriate hospital departments will ensure patients are dealt with accordingly and receive the care they need as soon as possible.
We are part of a national partnership who were recently awarded £1.3M from the NIHR, UK Research and Innovation, Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation to form CONDOR (the COVID-19 National DiagnOstic Research and Evaluation Platform). Through the platform we are robustly evaluating new COVID-19 tests in hospitals and the community.
Working with our CONDOR collaborators we interviewed 16 clinicians from 12 NHS Trusts across England. They represented 10 different specialisms covering urgent, acute and elective admissions. Interviewees shared their key lessons learned from the pandemic so far and their thoughts on where and when rapid tests for COVID-19 could have the most benefit.
Our analysis revealed that COVID-19 testing currently helps to guide infection control considerations more so than treatment decisions. Our results indicated that priority for rapid testing should be given to hospitals with limited access to laboratory services and availability of single rooms. Rapid testing would also be valuable in settings where urgent decisions need to be made such as emergency surgery, maternity services and organ transplant departments. This may help to reduce viral transmission within areas of the hospital where patients are waiting for test results.