World Nano Foundation

According to experts, holding back on rapid mass testing is now a public health emergency extending the war against COVID-19. Travel and hospitality sectors can potentially create safer back-to-work environments and negate the need for future lockdowns through public health adoption of regular use of easy-to-use rapid lateral flow tests in the workplace.

The UK was first to recognize the large-scale potential and is now deploying 400 million lateral flow rapid antigen test kits alongside its vaccination strategy. This is of course in addition to public guidance on mask wearing, hand cleansing and physical distancing.

However, the lateral flow test (LFT) message is gaining global momentum. According to David Nabarro, World Health Organization’s Special Envoy on COVID-19, “We’ve seen it (rapid mass testing) used in many different locations, particularly for example in trying to keep aircraft free of people who’ve got COVID or looking after major events.”
 
Using LFTs will keep economies open, health systems safe and allow audiences to attend entertainment and sporting events, he added. American mass-testing expert Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard University insists that rapid mass testing is sometimes misunderstood: “The UK is one of the only countries that genuinely listened to the science and I spoke with Downing Street about the value of getting mass testing right.”

Early adopters in the UK include the Royal Mail, DVLA and Tate & Lyle Sugars. Slovakia, like the UK, uses rapid lateral flow antigen tests with great success in their mass testing initiative, with extremely positive results.

Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that around one in three infected people do not show symptoms, so testing is vital to break the chains of transmission; workplace testing offers peace of mind to those unable to work from home during lockdown.

Hancock added, “LFTs have already been hugely successful in finding positive cases we would not otherwise find, and I encourage employers and workers to take up this offer to help protect essential services and businesses.”

Senior researchers at Oxford University found that most sensitive LFTs detected 83-90% of all infectious cases of COVID-19. With the UK investing over £1.5bn in these test kits so far, Oxford’s Regius Professor of Medicine Sir John Bell underlined the benefit of these removing infectious people from high-risk environments, adding “They’ve found 25,000 cases just in healthcare, which may have prevented tens of thousands of cases of the disease.”

The World Nano Foundation (WNF) promotes healthcare technology and has modelled this form of technology, predicting that mass testing will remain essential to future pandemic protection. The organization’s co-founder Paul Sheedy commented, “Our research shows how healthcare diagnostics technology will shift dramatically to a more decentralized community early intervention model, against potential epidemics and pandemics.”

A key point previously missed by some experts is that high quality rapid lateral flow tests are not for people who already think they have COVID-19 — it’s about everyone else testing frequently to check that they’re not infectious.

Used alongside vaccines, hand-cleansing and physical distancing, these simple tests are a vital component in the battle to defeat COVID-19, future variants or other viruses.

Rapid community testing is simpler, faster, cheaper, ultimately more effective and mobilizes everyone to help themselves and their relatives, friends, and colleagues. We can all play a part in keeping everyone safe.

About the World Nano Foundation

The World Nano Foundation is a non-profit membership organization with 75,000 subscribers and users in 40 countries working on international commercialization of nanoscale techn in 16 industry sectors. It collaborates with a wide variety of partners to maximize support and funding to bring advanced technology to the world.

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