Three studies into the real-world use of rapid tests, known as lateral flow tests (LFTs), have confirmed their effectiveness in a variety of conditions. The three research papers assessed the use of LFTs in a variety of situations: against variants of concern, testing patients with high viral loads, as part of mass testing campaigns, with inexperienced users and using different types of swabs. LFTs were found to be particularly effective in detecting the Delta variant. Accuracy of the tests remained high whether used by an experienced or inexperienced user.
The UK government has announced a new package of genomic sequencing support to help Pakistan fight new Covid-19 variants. With the help of the new variant assessment platform (NVAP) programme, Pakistan will now be able to access expertise and support from the UK in quickly detecting new Covid-19 variants. The UK is considered to be a world leader in genomic sequencing for Covid-19 variants and the second-largest contributor to the international database of variants. The agreement was reached between UK’s Public Health England (PHE) and Pakistan’s National Institute for Health (NIH) to offer reagents to increase genomic sequencing capacity in Pakistan.
The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) has issued new guidelines to the public advising against the use of cycle threshold (CT) values to guide Covid-19 treatment or public health efforts. According to the AACC, there are many limitations associated with reporting CT values, and may not be helpful in detecting disease severity or transmissibility. Even though CT values correlate with the amount of virus in specimens, they may not actually determine a patient’s overall viral load or infectiousness. AACC’s statement lists a number of factors that can impact the CT values, such as age and sampling instruments used.