University Covid-19 Asymptomatic Testing Service to close at end of academic year

Friday, 06 May 2022
After almost two years of operation, the university’s on-site Covid-19 Asymptomatic Testing Service is set to close. From the end of the summer term in June 2022 it will no longer offer sample collection or testing for staff and students.

However, the service can be quickly reinstated should it be required in future in the event of, for example, a new wave of Covid-19 infections, new variants emerging, or virus symptoms increasing in severity.

Ian Hall, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the university, said: “The end of the academic year is a sensible time at which to close the university’s testing service for asymptomatic cases of Covid-19. Though current variants of the virus are very transmissible, illness in those who experience symptoms is much less severe in most cases.

“The extensive vaccination programme, alongside development of anti-viral and other treatments which better treat those who do experience more severe symptoms, mean that we no longer need to monitor and manage outbreaks of the virus in the same way.

“The end of the academic year brings a natural transmission break on our campuses, and allows us to move to a lower level of infection management, which is appropriate to the current stage of the pandemic.

“We would encourage people to continue to follow government advice on living safely with Covid, which emphasises the importance of being vaccinated, continuing to use a mask in enclosed spaces and of trying to avoid contact with others if you have symptoms suggestive of an infectious disease.”

The asymptomatic service was launched in September 2020 to support staff and students on campus with free access to asymptomatic testing for Covid-19. This gave our university community access to testing when government testing centres were in high demand, and ensured that we could catch infections early and track and manage potential outbreaks across campus.

It has since tested more than 150,000 samples, identifying almost 2,000 positive cases of Covid-19 in staff and students who displayed no symptoms at the time of testing and may otherwise not have realised they had Covid.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Long said: “The Covid-19 asymptomatic testing service is at the heart of our response to the pandemic. It was key to bringing staff and students back to campus – and ensuring that students could go home confident they weren’t passing the virus on to vulnerable family and friends.

“I want to thank everyone involved in this huge, complex and far-reaching project – from the team in the lab to the volunteers on the collection points to the administrators that worked on gaining accreditation for the service and everyone in between. You’ve done an incredible job.”

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