Evaluating a rapid test for diagnosing a childhood respiratory virus
Speeding up the diagnosis of respiratory syncytial virus, using tests like the Roche Cobas Liat system, could reduce the spread of infection and produce cost savings for NHS hospitals.
It can take over 24 hours to receive a test result from a laboratory and confirm respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. This is the most common reason for a child to be admitted to hospital. The virus is highly contagious so there is a need for a fast and accurate diagnostic test for RSV to ensure appropriate use of isolation resources and prevent the spread of the infection.
We were funded by Roche Diagnostics to assess the accuracy of their cobas Liat system for diagnosing RSV near the beside at the Newcastle Great North Children’s Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital. We also examined the economic impact of using their platform. Parent groups guided the study design and public facing information we developed.
Our evaluation suggested the cobas Liat system was as good at detecting RSV infection as standard laboratory testing.
Our work also identified the following benefits if the cobas Liat system was used:
- The waiting time for a test result was reduced, on average, to 36 minutes.
- A potential saving in isolation resource use of half a day per patient if the test was used.
- A predicted saving of £62/patient if the test was implemented.
- The cobas Liat system is now in place across the UK in the NHS, mainly in A&E departments but also in paediatric settings and other wards.
- Use of the test could reduce the spread of infection, which would potentially save the NHS time and money, through optimising the use of isolation resources.
- The work has led to further collaborations with Roche including evaluating their SARS-CoV-2 & Flu A/B Rapid Antigen Test (Roche LFD).
Parents shared their thoughts on the importance of a test for RSV:
“I think as a parent it gives you piece of mind knowing actually what’s wrong.”
“You don’t know what a child’s immune system is like and you could be putting them in danger.”