Cheap and quick Covid-19 tests could be available in the UK by Christmas, it has been claimed.
It is hoped millions of £5 coronavirus saliva tests that provide results in 15 minutes will be rolled out before the end of December, according to reports.
The quick tests could help keep offices and schools open and a negative result could also allow Brits back in the pub or theatre, the Mirror reports.
If rolled out, they could also allow families to visit loved ones who have been shielding or in care homes.
The speedy new tests would reportedly work by taking a swab from inside the mouth or nostril then mixing it with a solution.
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A few drops would then be put onto a stick, and if the virus is detected a line would show up within minutes.
"They are pretty exciting," a government source told The Sun.
"Rapid-turnaround, relatively inexpensive tests are the future. We have something that's 15 minutes which is pretty close to being ready.
"These are not complicated. They are tests you can do at a university, school or workplace with no specialist training or equipment.
"I'd be very surprised if we were not in good shape by Christmas for these tests."
The source added that these fast tests would be another dimension to the testing capabilities currently available.
Field trials of several swabs have reportedly already begun in England after passing strict government lab checks.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "By trialling new technology such as the 15 minute lateral flow tests, we are building the foundations for a mass testing programme which could get our children back to school faster, or help our NHS staff return to the frontline.
"Both these and the saliva tests being rolled out in our NHS will give results there and then, without the need to send a swab off to a lab, and could offer quick reassurance to people that they are either not infected or need to self-isolate."
Currently coronavirus tests take about a day to return a result.
As well as working on a vaccine, scientists in labs around the world have been trying to perfect tests that will identify whether a sample is virus-positive as quickly as possible.
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