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The use of the compact Mic qPCR cycler for rapid deployment by Mike Slinger @ BMS

The use of the compact Mic qPCR cycler for rapid deployment of remote Covid-19 diagnostic testing. This plug-and-play 48-sample real time RT-PCR platform is extremely compact at 15 cm cubed, robust for transport, and never requires calibration. It is in use within NHS laboratories, and also around the world in remote locations in disaster relief efforts. It outperforms traditional "gold standard" PCR systems whilst costing under £10,000. More details can be found...

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PCR-AI Solution shared by Mark Zuckerman at KCH is a machine learning system used at KCH that enables high throughput COVID-19 PCR interpretation, monitoring and reporting which is essential for high volumes of data. In under three minutes, results from the thermocycler are available for the patient. Patented AI ensures accuracy of results and standardisation ensures results from different equipment and labs can be compared - all in real-time. Complete QC monitoring further ensures reliability of results. These will then be sent to...

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Rapid (20 minute) desk top RT PCR analyser (VitaPCR) by Menarini Diagnostics

Menarini Diagnostics has introduced a rapid molecular assay that identifies the target virus from patients infected with SARS-CoV-2  and can aid in the effective control of the global outbreak.  Weighing just 1 kg, this small compact unit is ideal to be deployed in POCT scenarios such as A&E, Critical Care, Clinics, Surgeries, Testing Pods, Drive Through Centers, etc.  The analyser has an integrated bar code reader to scan in each test reagent pack for further ease of use.  Positive and...

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Earlier this week we held our second community webinar with NHS labs, and we are grateful to many of you for joining. We got into more detail around the challenges and solutions on the Testing Methods platform. In particular, we held conversations on how labs are implementing specific testing approaches. We also spoke about what the next weeks look like in terms of scaling-up capacity and throughput. The recording is available below.

We will host the next engagement webinar in a fortnight and take on board what is most useful for the community to discuss. Thank you as always for your views, comments and questions. As in previous bulletins, we will continue to answer questions put to us weekly.

We encourage you to continue working through, implementing and validating the 15 solutions we have shared in previous bulletins. We also wanted to bring your attention to existing resources people have shared through the platform, which you may also want to verify and use where relevant. Over the next week, we will take decisions on those ideas submitted to our new challenges on end-to-end efficiency and alternative sampling, so that we can begin to share those we believe have potential.

Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer, NHS England and Improvement

Professor Jo Martin, President, Royal College of Pathologists

On behalf of the moderators’ group

We are very grateful to you for your significant contribution in meeting last week’s testing goal, delivering over 100,000 tests nationwide in a day. This scale up is all down to your hard work and dedication.

We have updated the Testing Methods platform, to continue championing and sharing out novel ideas. We have set up two new challenge topics, focusing in further areas where there is potential to support labs. One challenge covers alternatives to swabs for sampling, and the other covers end-to-end efficiency and speed of testing. Do visit the platform and join the conversation on these, especially to help us understand where we can best support you.

Our next engagement webinar is this Tuesday, 12 May, at 10.00-11.30, and we want to think about current solutions available in more detail and discuss practical steps for implementation. We also want to think through the ambition for testing and scale up, and scenarios we might find ourselves in over the coming months.
While we kick-off these two new challenges, we do not have newer solutions to share this week. We do encourage you to continue working through how you will implement relevant solutions from the 15 shared in the previous bulletins. A recap of these is in the attached PDF.

Professor Dame Sue Hill  Chief Scientific Officer, NHS England and Improvement

Professor Jo Martin, President, Royal College of Pathologists

On behalf of the moderators’ group

Earlier this week we held a virtual webinar and discussion with NHS labs on the Testing Methods platform. It was wonderful to have so many people join, over 300 attendees, including peers across the UK and internationally. It was also excellent to see those new to this effort join the conversation and consider how they take part.

We held thought provoking discussions on how we as national partners can support labs in using novel testing approaches. Attendees made valuable points to help us in shaping our platform, challenges and future events. In taking forward, we look forward to updating you and will be running another webinar session in the next fortnight.
We have highlighted two new solutions from the platform, to see below. Do continue to look into these, try these out and run validation. And if you are a first-time reader, we do also encourage you to look at the previous bulletins and the 13 solutions these cover on RNA extraction, transport media and dry swabs. 

Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer, NHS England and Improvement

Professor Jo Martin, President, Royal College of Pathologists

On behalf of the moderators’ group.

We are delighted at the continued support from the scientific and diagnostic community, as we reach over 200 submissions on the crowdsourcing platform launched to solve pressing challenges in COVID-19 testing.

We have also now added a fifth challenge, asking for examples of small volume blood collection for rapid serology testing.We are sharing further solutions which we believe, firstly, have potential for rapid uptake and, secondly, can address the current challenges in testing at scale.

We continue to ask for your help in understanding how these approaches work in practice. Do please consider these approaches where they fit your local context, and continue to test and validate these so we can begin to take your feedback.

Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer, NHS England and Improvement 

Professor Jo Martin, President, Royal College of Pathologists

On behalf of the moderators’ group.

On Friday 10th April we launched a crowdsourcing platform to seek ideas and solutions to four specific challenges, identified as part of the nationwide programme to scale up our COVID-19 testing programme across the UK. This has been a coalition of groups from the NHS, Department of Health and Social Care, BioIndustry Association, Bio In Vitro Diagnostic Association, Royal College of Pathologists, Medallia Crowdicity and our scientific community in health services, universities and industry.

We have had an outstanding response from colleagues across the country with more than 140 submissions to date and several suggestions that are ready to be adopted and scaled up. This bulletin focusses on sharing innovations in RNA extraction that may help solve some of the current challenges. More are coming in, so this is the first wave!

We now need your help: the aim of the crowdsourcing work was to find solutions that could be adopted straightaway. The solutions below have been assessed by our moderators as having that potential. Please will you look at them, make local decisions on which protocols might be useful in your context and validate them in your usual way. Clearly not all methods will be applicable to all. w

RNA Extraction suggestions

RNA extraction free and heat treatment free COVID-19 PCR direct from swab method

 • NWLP extraction free protocol - Using SPS and Non-proprietary buffer with the AusDiagnostics SARS CoV-2 assay

Beads based method for RNA extraction

Fast and scalable extraction protocol from AusDx

Heat inactivation, no extraction needed 

Our first priority is to spread solutions that can help to scale up testing. We will continue to send you this bulletin with potential solutions. At the same time, we would like to know if these ideas are usable and being put into practice. Next week we will send you a quick and easy survey to understand your experience with these solutions. 

If you have any questions, want to suggest the names of other people who should receive this bulletin or are able to tell us about your experience with this solution, please contact

In the meantime, the crowdsourcing platform will remain open so please keep adding your solutions, ideas and comments at

Thank you for everything that you are doing!

Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer, NHS England and Improvement

Professor Jo Martin, President, Royal College of Pathologists

On behalf of the moderators’ group.

Bev Matthews

Birmingham, United Kingdom

Joined this community on Apr 9, 2020

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