SAMBA II: The 90-minute coronavirus testing machine

A new rapid COVID-19 diagnostic test, which gives results 90-minutes with 98.7% accuracy to be rolled out across UK.

The Samba II identified 98.7% of infected patients correctly, with 100 made available by billionaire philanthropist Sir Chris Hohn’s £2.3m donation.

Diagnostics for the Real World, a University of Cambridge spinout company, has developed the Samba II machines to provide a simple and accurate system for the diagnosis of Covid-19.

Plans are that healthcare workers will use this machine at the point of care to rapidly diagnose patients and direct those who test positive for the infection to dedicated wards.

Ten of the portable machines, called Samba II, are already being used to diagnose coronavirus patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge as of this week.

Developed by a University of Cambridge spin-off company called Diagnostics for the Real World, researchers said their COVID-19 tests had been validated by Public Health England (PHE) – and that they were expected to be launched in hospitals across the country.

Samba II was originally developed for early HIV diagnosis and is “extremely sensitive” at detecting active infections.

Nasal and throat swabs from patients are loaded into the machines which look for tiny traces of genetic material belonging to the coronavirus.

The machine looks for tiny traces of genetic material belonging to the virus, amplifies it billions of times chemically, and is therefore extremely sensitive in the detection of active infections.

The tests have been validated by Public Health England, Cambridge, in 102 patient samples and shown to have 98.7 per cent sensitivity (ability to correctly identify positive cases) and 100 per cent specificity (the ability to correctly identify negative cases) compared to the currently used NHS/Public Health England test.

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