DnaNudge has expanded its Covid-19 diagnostic proposition to include a consumer service designed to test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in situations where up to 10 people are part of a close-contact bubble.

Codenamed the “Bubble Test”, the service is currently available by appointment only at the firm’s Covent Garden store, but will be available as an at-home, by-post service throughout the UK “within weeks”.

The announcement comes after DnaNudge spent months validating the use of its technology, starting in March, across hospitals in the UK, where it remains a key part of the government’s testing strategy in clinical environments.

DnaNudge CEO and co-founder Regius Professor Chris Toumazou said: “Ever since this global crisis began and the scale of the public health challenge began to be recognised, DnaNudge has worked alongside front-line clinicians and tirelessly diverted our skills and energies into developing this DnaNudge Covid test that, today, is successfully boosting the country’s rapid-testing capacity and helping to improve patient and staff safety right across the NHS.

“By making this transformative test more widely accessible, at very low-cost, our aim is to help improve the detection of asymptomatic yet infectious individuals and to support the huge effort to bring this virus under control and move us all forwards toward safety and a return to normality as soon as we possibly can.”

dnanudge covid-19 tests
DnaNudge CEO Chris Toumazou is Regius Professor of Engineering at Imperial College (Credit: Thomas Angus, Imperial College London)

As noted by Toumazou, the DnaNudge Bubble Test – which costs each participant £10 – is specifically for people without symptoms, something they must confirm before attending an in-store appointment.

According to the firm, the test is aimed at people looking for reassurance about whether they could be infectious – including essential workers – or who require PCR test confirmation of their Covid-19 status before travelling abroad.


How does DnaNudge Covid-19 ‘Bubble Test’ work?

The DnaNudge Covid-19 test is a rapid, portable, out-of-laboratory RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test that delivers results in just over an hour with a sensitivity of 94.4% and a specificity of 100% – meaning there’s no false positives.

In the Bubble Test, sputum (phlegm) samples are provided in-store by all individuals in the testing pool and processed in a single DnaNudge testing cartridge, using the company’s NudgeBox RT-PCR analyser.

For the upcoming at-home service, samples will be provided securely by post.

If a positive result is detected for the pool, swabs from each individual retained from the initial sample collection are processed to identify the positive case (or cases) within the bubble.

Results are then communicated to individuals via text message, with information on appropriate action in line with government public health guidelines.

According to DnaNudge, the sputum testing method has been fully validated against its individual nasal swab test and was found to deliver “comparable accuracy”.

The company also validated the method through its work with The London Symphony Orchestra, which is being supported with regular Covid-19 testing by DnaNudge to enable its return to live performance.

Forty of its musicians were tested at one time from pooled individual sputum samples using a single cartridge.