British Army medics have been supporting trials of a new COVID-19 antigen test designed to give rapid results, say the Ministry of Defence.

It is understood that the test sees a swab taken from the back of throat, which is then smeared on to a chemical test strip that indicates within 20 minutes whether the person tested has Covid-19.

It is designed to provide rapid results to be used in public venues such as airports and theatres.

According to the aforementioned news release:

“Last week, some 90 medics supported Public Health England (PHE) trials of the test at secondary schools in Lewisham, Poole and Salisbury. The trial used pupils and staff not displaying symptoms to test the efficiency of mass use of the technology. One of the medics involved was Sergeant Louise Arthur from Colchester-based 16 Medical Regiment, who was working alongside PHE staff to carry out testing at Sedgehill School in Lewisham.”

Sergeant Arthur, a professional Army nurse, said:

“We were told on Tuesday lunchtime that we were supporting this work the next day, so we had to quickly get ourselves organised. On Wednesday morning the PHE staff walked and talked us through how to use the equipment and then we’ve just got on with it and been working together to test as many children and staff as we can.

The test a really quick and simple process – after we’ve checked paperwork and done the test, the person is in and out within two minutes – and everyone has been absolutely fine with it. As medics, it’s been interesting for us to be involved in developing a bit of cutting-edge science that, if it passes all the trials, will enable us to live alongside Covid-19 better and help us take a step towards normality.”

The Army’s involvement in this trial is the latest in a long list of task it has carried out in support of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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I know there has been lots of research and candidates for saliva tests but it’s a shame nothing suitable (affordable, reliable and fast) seems to have come out of that yet. These fast swab tests are great for a test centre setting but if the ultimate aim is to roll something out widely for home testing as well I worry how poor swabbing technique by home users might affect the false-negative rate. At least this one sounds as if it is only throat, I’m really not sure how many home users would go through with a “ram it so far… Read more »


The army is playing a blinder. Remember the eucalyptus based insecticide spray they were using when they sorted out the PPE logistics? It was sent for evaluation to Porton Down and turns out to be very effective in stopping transmission of the virus.


I’m just not seeing how all this work on rapid antigen testing is really worth it. we are diverting a lot of resources that we really need in meat and potato management of this virus and it’s impacts on what is quite frankly fairytales. The truth is we are probably not going to be able to test and trace ourselves out of this disease, especially with antigen tests like this becuase 1) quite frankly they have rubbish sensitivity and specificity. 2) swabbing by inexperienced staff added massively to the error rates. 3) Even in hospitals with healthcare professionals undertaking the… Read more »


An interesting summation! I agree that whatever happens with vaccines, we are going to have to make significant changes to our lives. The covid-19 revolution could well turn out to be more significant to people’s lives than the industrial revolution!


What is really interesting is this disease has really stress tested our society (and I’m taking the modern world not one county) around bio security and resilience. We have really been found wanting. We are so very use to being on top of managing waterborne diseases, bacterial diseases and the many childhood diseases that the human body creates a good immune response to that we never really thought what a problem a new respiratory disease that produces a poor immune response could really do to our society. what’s really scary is that impact and impact because although from a societal… Read more »