The TestEd research project, funded by the University of Edinburgh and UKRI, ran from April 2021 to December 2022 to develop an innovative PCR strategy using quick and convenient saliva samples to detect asymptomatic COVID-19 infections within 24 hours of testing, with the ultimate aim of minimising infection outbreaks and transmission.
The expert multidisciplinary team evaluated multiplex sample pooling to process dozens of tests at once, saving time and money while maintaining accuracy, compared to alternative techniques.
Their approach enabled large-scale twice-weekly testing across the whole University for staff and students, along with surveys and interviews to understand people’s experience of testing and public health measures.
Around 168,000 test samples from more than 30 locations were processed anonymously at the TestEd lab at the Institute of Genetics and Cancer with results returned to individuals within 24 hours. More than 800 positive cases were detected, providing protection and peace of mind to the University community throughout the pandemic.
The TestEd team were awarded the Principal’s Medal in 2021.