This is the inaugural article from Testing for All, so a warm welcome to you. To keep up to date with our latest activities, do follow us on Linkedin here.
What’s our mission? We aim to complement the work of the UK government by helping to rapidly expand the availability of affordable COVID-19 testing for the next “key” workers. Whilst the government’s efforts are focussed on frontline workers, we are committed to testing the “margin” which the government has not quite got to yet: by which we mean continually testing the workers who are most at risk of catching and transmitting SARS-CoV-2. We will work in close collaboration with the NHS, Public Health England and HM Government to ensure our testing is carried out to the highest standard, and not only benefits the individual and the employer, but also helps in the broader sense of managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
When are we launching? Our initial roll-out in May covers 1,000 GPs and NHS workers in London giving them access to an affordable test to determine their previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2. This roll-out uses high accuracy Abbott SARS-CoV-2 IgG immunoassays running on their ARCHITECT i2000SR system. Testing for All is managing the logistics, and our amazing laboratory partners are processing the collected samples. Learning from the successes of this roll-out, we aim to scale quickly to process 1,000s of tests per day.
What’s our focus? When establishing a testing organisation it is important to know why you are testing. What is the point after all? We are guided by the use cases documented by FIND, and are concentrating on those most relevant to the worker and their employer. Our initial tests are to determine previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2, to help an organisation manage risk, and to help identify any characteristics that may make an employer or an individual more at risk. In the near future we also hope to make tests available in the workplace to test for active cases of COVID-19 for immediate triage to the NHS.
Proudly not-for-profit On our website you can see our guiding principles, which are particularly helpful as we are trying to take decisions very quickly. We are proud that Testing for All is a not-for-profit organisation. Our model is to provide testing at cost, plus a transparent admin fee to cover expenses such as building the logistics platform and insurance. When private testing started to appear in February 2020, a basic antibody test cost £250 per person. At this time we can provide a highly accurate lab based test for £37 per person, with an administration fee of £3. As we drive efficiency through the supply chain and help our laboratory partners to work at close to optimal capacity, we expect both of these costs to reduce further.
Establishing Testing for All presents unique challenges. We are working in a highly regulated field, dealing with the most sensitive of personal data, in a supply chain that is stretched to the limit by COVID-19. We are hugely impressed by the work that the CQC has done to create the accelerated registration process that we are now going through, the ICO with guidance for testing employees and overall the herculean effort of the NHS and HM Gov to keep us safe.
The future..? On Monday 18th May, we processed our first SARS-CoV-2 test; and we reflect on this unbelievable situation. Kelly and I founded Testing for All on 23 April and as such it is an organisation born in lockdown, by two people who have yet to meet in person. It is a company whose happiest day will be the day it is no longer required and can shut down its systems and delete any remaining data.
Thank you for Kelly, Jess, Darren, Estelle, Jack, Luka and Charlotte who have all signed up for this crazy challenge. That’s one test down, and 999,999 to go.
James & Kelly and the TFA team