Pint of Science Festival 2021
Our methodologists Dr Kile Green and Tim Hicks invited people from around the world to take “A glimpse into the future” of medical testing as part of Pint of Science Festival 2021.
The Pint of Science Festival is held every year across the globe and enables scientists to explain their work to the public in a relaxed environment. As part of Pint of Science Festival 2021, two of our methodologists, Dr Kile Green and Tim Hicks, discussed the work of the NIHR Newcastle In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative (NIHR Newcastle MIC). They described our recent work around COVID-19 and how we are helping to improve testing for the future. This was a great opportunity to highlight the integral role the public can play in our work and the activities of our insight panel for patients, public and carers.
Kile explained how we help developers generate and interpret data so their new medical tests can hopefully be used in the NHS. He described the different types of tests we examine and how we measure their accuracy. Kile also explained that tests are rarely perfect and the different types of true and false results that might occur.
Tim discussed aspects we consider when judging which test is best for each situation. He mentioned that these factors may include who will perform the test and the prevalence of the disease in the population being tested. Tim suggested a “bad test” used on its own could be worse than no test at all due to the consequences of false results for the individual and wider community. However, he also highlighted that lower accuracy tests can have some benefits and be useful in certain circumstances. For example, these technologies can give a quicker result and be more cost-effective. So, they could be used as an initial screening test as part of a mass testing regime.
Kile and Tim received lots of questions from the audience. Further discussion focused on the differences between COVID-19 PCR and lateral flow tests, whether different variants affect the accuracy of the tests and the usability of current tests.
The live show was broadcast on YouTube and has had over 400 views so far.
Watch the full recording by following this link.