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New £1.3m programme to evaluate Covid-19 tests

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New £1.3m programme to evaluate Covid-19 tests

A £1.3 million national research programme funded by the National Institute for Health Research, UK Research and Innovation, along with Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation will provide a single national route for evaluating new coronavirus tests.

The Covid-19 National DiagnOstic Research and Evaluation Platform (CONDOR) is a multicentre programme that will evaluate how new diagnostic tests perform in hospitals, general surgeries and care homes.

Determining who has been infected with the coronavirus is a key part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The life sciences industry has rapidly responded to the pandemic by developing new diagnostic tests both to detect current infection and the presence of antibodies. However, many of the new tests have yet to be thoroughly evaluated in the settings where they're likely to be used.

Professor Gail Hayward, associate professor at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said: “While a new diagnostic test might work well in a lab under controlled conditions, there are many different factors that could make it less accurate when you take that test out into the real world.

“These include the range of ways that Covid-19 can present itself, from non-symptomatic carriers to post-symptomatic people who have recovered, the range of other illnesses people might have and the challenges of performing tests in a busy clinical environment.

“Right now there’s a critical gap in how we road-test new diagnostics for Covid-19. By robustly evaluating these diagnostics in health and care settings, the CONDOR programme will help the government and clinicians to understand the real-world accuracy of these tests.”

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