A BICESTER company has developed an easier way for children to get tested for Covid-19.

FitnessGenes, based at Bicester Innovation Centre, usually offers DNA testing for fitness purposes but it has now started offering Covid tests in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

The test, said to be the first of its kind to be made available to the public, is an antigen saliva ‘spit’ test instead of the swab test which people are more familiar with.

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Instead of inserting a long swab through the nostrils deep into the back of the throat, saliva is put into a sample pot.

The pot is then returned to the FitnessGenes partner laboratory in the UK for analysis and results are delivered via text within 12 hours of receipt at the lab.

Because it is 'non-invasive', the saliva test is seen as a better experience particularly for children who need to be tested as well as children with special needs.

Oxford Mail:

Dr Samantha Decombel, CEO of FitnessGenes, said: “During a later discussion with a work colleague, Carrie, I also learnt that some children, especially those with autism or sensory issues, really struggle with the swab test due to the invasive nature of the test, and can be very fearful of it.”

Dr Decombel has offered ten free tests to Woodeaton School, a school focused specifically on the support of children with specialist educational needs.

She has also given ten free tests to St Edburg’s Primary School and is offering ten free tests each month for schools in need.

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Her colleague Carrie Kerciku's son, Noah, has autism and struggled with taking a swab test earlier this year.

Ms Kerciku said: "He became very stressed and tearful. The swab up his nose was unpleasant but putting it in his throat only made him gag which was the most distressing part.

"Had we the option to do this via saliva sample and in the comfort of our own home, we absolutely would have. There are so many children like Noah and with even more difficult sensory needs that really need to be considered."

As a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company, FitnessGenes already had existing supplier relationships and a GDPR-compliant platform in place, which meant it was relatively quick for it to add Covid testing to its services.