“Saliva testing could potentially make it even easier for people to take coronavirus tests at home, without having to use tampons,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
“This study will also allow us to find out if routine, home tests could pick up cases of the virus sooner.”
Tests do not use the standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method, which experts say may miss cases due to errors in collecting samples from the back of the throat using a long nasopharyngeal swab.
Instead, another technique, called RT-Lampe, is used in the saliva test lawsuit, which the government said had already shown to be very promising.
The pilot program will involve further validation of the technique against PCR nasal swabs, he said.
More than 14,000 medical and health workers, other workers and university staff and their households in the city of Southampton will participate in the test, which uses a test developed by the British firm Optigene, the government said.
Rather than taking a cotton swab, some people feel uncomfortable, participants will spit in a jar. The results of the Test will be received within 48 hours, the government said.
The pilot will be carried out jointly by the City of Southampton, at the University of Southampton, and the state of health service, alongside an extensive network of public services in Hampshire.
Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of home saliva tests to detect the virus in the United States.
The British government has said it is also exploring the potential of other stemless saliva based coronavirus tests with companies including Chronomics, Avacta (AVTG.L), The MAP of Science and Oxford Nanoimaging (ONI).
He said it was also working with suppliers, including DNA Genotek, Scientist International Supplies Ltd, Isohelix and other manufacturers, to develop custom saliva kit collection and production scale for products that can be used with existing products, PCR tests.
The pilot will run up to four weeks of screening on a weekly basis, the government said, resulting in a total of 33,000 to 40,000 tests in the program.
Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Alex Richardson
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