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Coronavirus testing at stadiums 'some way off'

Prenetics, the biotechnology company hired by the Premier League to test its players, has claimed that there is more work to do to produce rapid testing for fans at sporting venues.

The Hong Kong based firm has become one of the first manufacturers to produce testing technology capable of providing results in just 30 minutes, leading to questions being asked about how it could be utilised in the reintroduction of spectators into venues.

At present, sports are being played behind closed doors across the UK in a bid to tackle the surge in cases of Covid-19, but upon a return to normality, Prenetics’ technology could be used to test fans before entry into stadiums.

However, Avi Lasarow, the Prenetics chief executive, has played down the current competencies of the testing technology against what would likely be a large number people attending sporting events.

“It's very difficult to speculate. I think, realistically, from where we are sitting, that's still some time away,” said Lasarow to Sky Sports News when asked about when the testing at stadiums could be rolled out.

“There are multiple scenarios. We think it's probably realistic to build testing stations at core venues, which could be NCP car parks for example, that have land assets available.

“We have started using LAMP technology, from Oxford, and the testing cycle takes approximately 15-30 minutes.

“The capability exists. I can't comment on stadiums in particular but what I can say is that it's highly likely testing generally will be done outside of the environment of the venue, likely at pharmacies, independent pop-ups, around the country.”

Prenetics have continued to develop their technology throughout the period that Covid-19 has caused global disruption, making tests 98 per cent reliable and transforming testing centres from safe sample collecting stations to being able to test and provide the result there too.

Lasarow added: “In terms of mobile test centres, Prenetics has deployed them across a number of sports, (including) the ECB this year into the sports compounds for journalists.

“At that point, it was collection testing centres, just to facilitate the safe collection of the samples.

“However, as technology evolves, we have built mobile analysis units that can actually run the analysis and the process on site, without actually having to go to a laboratory. We're very pleased to be one of the first companies in the UK to do that and, hopefully, we will continue through that process to set the standards that others can achieve as well."

Prenetics have already offered similar testing in the aviation industry, providing rapid testing for passengers embarking on flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong, costing £80 per test, something that Lasarow has confirmed will be reduced for sports fans.

Elsewhere, the UK government has confirmed that the Premier League will be able to go ahead in the wake of the circuit break lockdown set to start on Thursday 5 November, despite amateur sport being halted.

Author: Jake Wilkin