The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the global mobilisation of diagnostics: predominantly lateral flow rapid tests and lab-based molecular tests. The deployment of laboratory molecular testing has highlighted the barriers in reaching the widest patient cohort and delivering test results as fast as possible.

Prof Lawrence talking about the importance of lateral flow for decentralized molecular testingAbingdon Health spoke with Professor Lawrence Young, a leading virologist from the University of Warwick, to discuss the barriers of lab-based molecular testing and why lateral flow immunoassays are important tools for the deployment of decentralised molecular testing.

Q: “What role has molecular testing played in the COVID-19 Pandemic?”

A: “Molecular testing has been essential for understanding the spread of the disease, managing patients with the disease, and becomes essential as we think about the future of not only infection with this COVID-19 causing virus, but with future pandemics we’re likely to suffer.”

Q: “What are the benefits of moving to decentralised molecular testing?”

A: “What we’ve learned from the current pandemic [COVID-19] is how important it is to have testing out in the community: we have experienced a number of spikes in infection and this demonstrates how essential it is to have testing close to individuals.

“Onsite testing is really important, and one of the big lessons that we have learned – indeed, one of the take home messages with the pandemic – is we need better and more efficient processes, procedures and technologies close to individuals with infection.”

Q: “What is needed to increase decentralised molecular testing?”

A: “We clearly need reliable technology that can be used on site efficiently, and with the appropriate support. So, what we’re thinking about is that individuals don’t necessarily have to have very significant training in the application of the technology. A test that is rapid and can be used in 20 or 30 minutes to get a result: that is essential. And of course, reliability of that testing is absolutely critical to make sure results are accurate.”

Q: “Will nucleic acid lateral flow tests be used more with molecular tests?

A: “I see lateral flow devices as a really exciting opportunity to further develop the technology of nucleic acid testing in a way that is general accepted by the public: we’re all familiar with lateral flow testing. And I think this is an exciting development that could provide exactly what we need: onsite testing, rapid approaches and easy technology that can be used reliably. Not only for more routine diagnostic purposes in traditional settings but also as we start to consider onsite testing in factories and other sites. Which I know many companies and organisations are thinking about, and they should be thinking about using lateral flow devices in that respect”.


Reliability, speed of results and accessibility to testing are 3 key elements essential for ensuring patients receive the best possible diagnostic service. Using nucleic acid lateral flow immunoassays alongside molecular tests takes diagnostics away from the laboratory and closer to the patient, delivering flexible decentralised testing.

Abingdon Health manufactures nucleic acid lateral flow tests that are compatible with molecular tests for clinical testing. Contact us or download our PCRD brochure to learn how this technology can expedite the deployment of decentralised molecular testing.

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