'Low Risk' That Rapid Tests Will Miss Covid Cases

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2020-10-30 HKT 20:52

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  • Prenetics CEO Danny Yeung says the rapid tests at the airport takes less than 30 minutes to find out if a passenger is infected with Covid-19. Photo: RTHK

    Prenetics CEO Danny Yeung says the rapid tests at the airport takes less than 30 minutes to find out if a passenger is infected with Covid-19. Photo: RTHK

The company behind a new rapid Covid-19 testing scheme at the airport on Friday dismissed concerns about accuracy, saying the risk of failing to catch infected passengers is low.

Prenetics CEO Danny Yeung said the test, known as LAMP, is 92 percent accurate and it will only take between 15 to 30 minutes for people to find out whether they are infected, while the conventional PCR tests will take hours.

It can process 12,000 samples a day at the airport, and the firm said capacity could go up if demand increases.

Yeung insisted the risks of their technology missing infected passengers are as low as one in two million passengers. "For the community, it’s really really safe. The risk of letting someone in is very, very minimal."

The two-week trial of rapid testing started at the airport on Wednesday. Samples are collected through a new method of using gargling, instead of taking deep-throat saliva.

"This simple method will be far more accessible to children and elderly people," said Cui Zhangfeng an Oxford University professor, who helped developed the rapid test. But he added the accuracy of the tests may be affected if the passengers ate food or drank alcohol after landing.

Prenetics is also running the rapid pre-departure tests at London's Heathrow airport with its partner at a cost of £80. Yeung said if it’s introduced in Hong Kong, it will cost around HK$250 to HK$300.

He hopes it can be introduced when the travel bubble between the territory and Singapore is implemented.