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There is an urgent need for rapid SARS-CoV-2 testing in hospitals to limit nosocomial spread. We report an evaluation of point of care (POC) nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) in 149 participants with parallel combined nasal and throat swabbing for POC versus standard lab RT-PCR testing. Median time to result is 2.6 (IQR 2.3-4.8) versus 26.4 h (IQR 21.4-31.4, p < 0.001), with 32 (21.5%) positive and 117 (78.5%) negative. Cohen's κ correlation between tests is 0.96 (95% CI 0.91-1.00). When comparing nearly 1,000 tests pre- and post-implementation, the median time to definitive bed placement from admission is 23.4 (8.6-41.9) versus 17.1 h (9.0-28.8), p = 0.02. Mean length of stay on COVID-19 "holding" wards is 58.5 versus 29.9 h (p < 0.001). POC testing increases isolation room availability, avoids bed closures, allows discharge to care homes, and expedites access to hospital procedures. POC testing could mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on hospital systems.

Original publication





Cell reports. Medicine

Publication Date





Division of Infection and Immunity, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK.


CITIID-NIHR COVID BioResource Collaboration