Staff at hi-tech engineering firm volunteer to trial COVID-19 saliva test

The entire workforce of a specialist engineering firm in Rochdale have volunteered to take part in a trial with Manchester-based COVID testing company Medusa 19 as a potential way to know they and their colleagues are free from the virus.

Trelleborg is one of the first UK companies to host such a trial.

Medusa 19’s Rapid Saliva Protein Test (RSPT) is unique in that it is non-invasive, can detect IgM and IgG antibodies in a saliva sample, and provides a result on the spot within 10 minutes.

The trial was undertaken by 67 volunteers including the senior management team, office workers and shop floor staff to indicate previous or current infection through antibodies created in saliva. Seven other observers also took part to have first-hand experience of the practicality of the test.

Medusa 19’s RSPT was carried out under the supervision of a medical professional and the volunteers were guided through the process with the Saturn Pass mobile application, a unique, patented digital passport platform designed to verify and validate the results.

Nobody who took part in the test had COVID symptoms.

Out of the 74 volunteers tested, 72 came back negative and two returned a positive result, which means the trial identified two asymptomatic cases of the virus.

These two individuals were immediately transferred to a private healthcare unit to receive a government-approved PCR test, which confirmed the positive result within 24 hours.

Trelleborg Rochdale is now working out how to provide facilities so that staff who participate can continue to test themselves on a weekly basis. They are also looking into the feasibility of other plants hosting similar trials, both in the UK and abroad.

The trial was spearheaded by Robert Lovelace, managing director at Trelleborg Rochdale, who said: “This is an important milestone for our team who all volunteered to take part in the trial.

“The fact that we detected two asymptomatic cases meant that we could act quickly and prevent an outbreak in our factory.

“As a supplier to the defence sectors, we are considered key workers and have had to be in the workplace throughout the pandemic. Everyone is looking for the reassurance that they are not infected and putting colleagues, or their families at risk.

“With cases on the rise across the North West, it’s important that we are proactive and look for practical solutions to keep the virus under control.”

Frank Singh, sourcing and procurement director at Medusa 19, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Trelleborg’s employees to deliver a solution that will safeguard their business and has been instrumental in protecting both front line critical workforce services.

Many organisations cannot operate from home, so even a small number of COVID-19 cases can shut entire teams, departments and workforces down – having a detrimental impact on productivity and the bottom line.

“Introducing regular testing alongside government guidelines will help employees in conjunction with their employers to identify those who need a government PCR test and need to self-isolate, while allowing those ‘free from infection’ to remain in the workplace without risk.

“Our partnership with Saturn Pass also means we can offer a ‘full ecosystem’ solution, where employees can use the app to demonstrate their test status and their employers can use the platform to control access to facilities.”