Mark Gillett: Lowdown on Premier League's new rapid testing regime
Written by Simon Austin — November 18, 2020
THE Premier League is rolling out a new 90-minute rapid covid test for players returning from international duty this week in an effort to get them quickly back into training grounds ahead of the weekend’s fixtures.
The testing has already started, with some players returning from international duty last night. In contrast, others will not be returning to their clubs until Friday morning.
Under Premier League protocols, players and staff must return a negative covid test before being allowed into their club training grounds.
With the existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taking 24 hours to return a result, there were fears that many players would not be able to train this week following their return from international duty.
This is why the Premier League is offering - and paying for - 90-minute rapid access tests provided by Hong Kong-based Prenetics, the company behind the PCR tests clubs have been using since returning to training under Project Restart in May.
Premier League Medical Advisor Mark Gillett told TGG: “We are giving two options. Players can either have the standard PCR test or the rapid test.
“If the rapid test returns a positive, then we do the PCR test to get it confirmed. Prenetics have three of four rapid-test machines around the country, so the clubs will talk to the company and they will send someone round to collect a swab.
"That swab will then be taken to the nearest machine and the result will be available within 90 minutes. Clubs have been told to submit their numbers of players returning from international duty, so we know exactly who’s coming back and have a plan in place for how each player is tested.
“It’s a balance between making sure the players are as safe as possible from covid and allowing them to get the amount of rest and training they need to keep them safe from injury. This test helps us to find that balance.”
The NHS is starting to use an immediate covid test, like a pregnancy test, but Gillett says this will not yet be used in the Premier League.
“There are very few of those that Public Health England approve and the ones they do approve are almost impossible to get hold of at the moment,” he said.
“We have to be sure of the quality and the supply and demand. We don’t want to start using those and have to go to a completely different testing protocol and then they run out.”