Professor Jonathan Deeks from the University of Birmingham stated researchers estimated round 60 coronavirus circumstances had been missed from college students who received examined earlier than returning house for Christmas, whereas solely two had been recognized with the fast assessments used within the nationwide scheme.
Lateral move units are set to be rolled out to secondary colleges and schools as time period begins in January, with a spherical of testing for the return, after which weekly coronavirus testing for academics and day by day coronavirus assessments for college students and employees recognized as an in depth contact of a Covid circumstances to maintain them in class.
Prof Deeks informed BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was “concerning” that solely a few circumstances had been discovered with these assessments – which flip round outcomes inside minutes – out of round 7,100 college students who got here ahead for asymptomatic testing earlier than Christmas on the college.
Research – led by Professor Alan McNally on the college – examined 10 per cent of the damaging circumstances with PCR assessments, and located one other six coronavirus circumstances.
“Our summary was that we probably found two students and missed 60 with this test because of its poor performance,” Prof Deeks informed the Today programme on Tuesday.
When pressed on what this might imply for colleges making ready to make use of the units in January, Prof Deeks stated: “We would be missing people who’ve got Covid.”
He stated: “The worst thing is actually the proposal that students when they’re in a class where one child has had Covid, they stay in the school and are tested with this test until they go positive because inevitably there’ll be students left in that class who’ve become infectious and infect others.
“So we’ll end up with outbreaks in the school which wouldn’t happen with our current policy of sending kids home.”
Secondary colleges and schools can have a staggered return in January to assist headteachers roll out mass testing of scholars, with examination years, susceptible youngsters and key staff’ youngsters to return as regular on 4 January, whereas others have distant studying. All college students are anticipated again by 11 January.
Experts have beforehand steered that counting on fast assessments which give a lead to minutes may imply a excessive proportion of circumstances are missed with false damaging outcomes.
Prof Deeks from the University of Birmingham stated they discovered a “very, very low detection rate” on the college, saying “it really surprised us as to how bad it was”.
“It might possibly be better in schools, but the data are emerging that this test isn’t working well anywhere in asymptomatic people in people who don’t have symptoms,” he stated. “It’s been designed to be used in people who do have symptoms that’s what the manufacturers said it should be used.”
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson stated: “The country’s leading scientists rigorously evaluated the Lateral Flow Test and confirmed the accuracy of the tests using a sample of over 8,500. Latest figures for similar settings showing sensitivity of 57.5 per cent generally and 84.3 per cent in people with high viral loads.
“This means they are accurate, reliable and successfully identify those with Covid-19 who don’t show symptoms and could pass on the virus without realising.”
They added: “With up to a third of individuals with Covid-19 not displaying symptoms, broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly and break chains of transmission.
“Anyone who tested positive with a lateral flow test during the university testing earlier this month would have been asked to get a confirmatory PCR test.”
The Department for Education have been approached for remark.