New COVID-19 testing pilot starts at University of Worcester

A pilot of Lateral Flow testing is launching at the University of Worcester as part of the Government’s UK-wide continuing drive to increase the availability of testing.

The pilot aims to help protect those at highest risk and provide vital information to help inform further rollout of the mass testing technology in future.

It is part of the government’s plan to develop new technologies which will safely enable the country to go about life as normally as possible.

From 30th November,  testing will be available for University of Worcester Students who are returning home to vulnerable households.

From the start of the pandemic, the Government has been working around the clock with a range of partners to fight coronavirus. The pilot in Worcestershire is being delivered in partnership with Worcestershire County Council Public Health and The University of Worcester and will offer assisted and self-administered tests.

Lateral Flow devices, similar to those that have been used to test a large number of people in Liverpool, allow a rapid test result without being reliant on laboratory capacity.  This will allow our local University students to return home with peace of mind.

Dr. Kathryn Cobain, Director for Public Health in Worcestershire said: “Throughout the pandemic, we have been working very closely with the University of Worcester to support students and protect the residents of the county. This testing pilot, will continue that good work, ensuring students are able to safely return to their families for Christmas. We are delighted to be able to use their new technology and we welcome the benefits it brings to the residents of Worcestershire." 

Ross Renton, Senior Pro Vice Chancellor at the University, said: “We have been working very closely with Worcestershire County Council’s Director of Public Health and her team throughout this whole period, ensuring our students have been able to return to their studies in the safest possible way, and are pleased that, as a result, we continue to remain a coronavirus coldspot.

This partnership work involved bringing an accessible Covid-19 test centre to the City Centre, located at the rear of the University of Worcester Arena, for the use of the entire community. We are pleased to now be able to continue our work together through co-designing a pilot programme for the targeted use of rapid lateral flow testing.

“Students who are returning home for the festive period, to a household with a vulnerable person, will be first to be targeted with these new rapid tests.

“The majority of our students are mature on entry and live within our daily travel to study area, while a quarter of our students who are studying on health courses are highly likely to receive testing through the new NHS scheme.As a university, we remain committed to doing all we can to tackle the virus and to help in the national recovery going forwards.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “We’ve already come so far since first setting up a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to help counter COVID-19, but we continue to strive to go further, faster.

“Innovations such as Lateral Flow Devices hold the key to the next phase of our ambition to see mass, rapid testing available to people across the country.

“I’m delighted that Worcestershire County Council are working with us to pilot the latest technology at The University of Worcester, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour, both in helping target the virus locally, and helping find ways to roll this technology out further soon.”

Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “NHS Test and Trace continues to play a leading role in the fight against COVID-19 with over 32 million tests processed so far.

“The work of Worcestershire County Council Public Health and The University of Worcester, will be essential in helping us explore the benefits of new technology.

“This pilot is one of many which will lay the foundations for the next phase of NHS Test and Trace –mass testing -which will allow us to test even more people, even more quickly.”