How Point of Care Testing will form part of everyday life through this COVID-19 response and beyond  


Publish date: Dec 1, 2020

There has been much debate and controversy surrounding the UK test and trace policy since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through these challenging times we have seen a focus on expanding the capacity for COVID-19 testing and the requirement for faster turnaround of results.

As the pandemic took hold, traditional laboratory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing capacity struggled to keep pace with the surge in demand. Capacity has much improved and PCR test results are now more than 240,000 a day although in only as many as 50% of cases, results are received within 24 hours.

During the summer, the government suggested by early 2021 more than three million tests a day would be available, driven by scientific recommendation. What will enable this increase in capacity is Point of Care Testing (PoCT).

The technology for PoCT has evolved rapidly over the past decade and its advantage is that the test can be performed anywhere, without the need to send a test to a laboratory. PoCT is used widely in infectious diseases, diabetes, cardiology, critical care, fertility, haematology, and general health screening. Relatively inexpensive, PoCT delivers results quickly and accurately and is complementary to hospital and laboratory testing.

BD has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing the BD Veritor System For Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2. The BD Veritor Plus System has been used widely for PoCT for Flu A, B and Strep. A swab is taken from the patient, placed in an assay solution and then drops of the solution are placed on a slide that is inserted into a small handheld device. Within 15 minutes, the device then presents a clear negative or positive result. Results of a trial conducted in patients with two or more symptoms compatible with COVID-19, indicate that the test has a sensitivity of 93.5% (vs reference molecular method).

PoCT expands the testing capacity and capability to start to consider testing in many different environments to keep us all safe. In addition to hospitals and care homes, schools, places of work, transport hubs, and availability in high street pharmacies may now be the future for PoCT for COVID-19, flu and the continuing development of applications.

Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) will be better able to deliver the best for public health with new approaches – including diagnostics without walls. Preventative treatment will go to the where the patient needs it, delivering value to the healthcare system, the taxpayer, and supporting national health security.

About the Author

Colin Edmondson

Colin joined BD in 2015 as Medical Management Solutions (MMS) Country Business Leader Throughout a 25-year career in healthcare, he has primarily worked in medical devices. His current role is to work across BD developing a commercial strategy for non-acute care to align with the NHS Health and Social Care integration policy. Colin is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and gained a MSc in Marketing in 2008.

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Troy Kirkpatrick

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