London Symphony Orchestra adopts rapid Covid test

London Symphony Orchestra adopts rapid Covid test


norman lebrecht

September 14, 2020

It’s a step forward.

Press release:

London, United Kingdom, September 14th 2020 – DnaNudge, developer of the pioneering rapid, lab-free CovidNudge test, is pleased to announce a special partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra – delivering regular COVID-19 testing to the orchestra’s 120 musicians and enabling London’s oldest symphony orchestra to make a much-welcomed return to live performance. DnaNudge is performing the testing – which delivers results in just over an hour – exclusively for the LSO as sponsors, to help support the UK arts and cultural sector’s safe re-opening and return to work.

The entire orchestra completed CovidNudge testing prior to beginning its first group rehearsal sessions at LSO St Luke’s, held in preparation for the LSO’s 2020 BBC Prom concert broadcast live on August 30th 2020. Regular testing will continue for the rest of the year to support the LSO’s ambitious and innovative programme of events announced for the Autumn season. The season will include full orchestral concerts streamed online from the LSO St Luke’s performance venue. The LSO will also be performing a series of BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime and Rush Hour chamber concerts, plus LSO Discovery Friday Lunchtime Concerts with small, socially-distanced audiences. 


  • Lancelot Spratt says:

    I wonder whether the manufacturers of the Nudge DNA test for Cov-19 know that the virus contains RNA not DNA!
    The Science Media Centre at Imperial College do not seem to have evaluated it yet. 30 mins shorter than the 90 mins PCR is not really much of an improvement. I doubt it will give the same accuracy.

    • Bill says:

      Not sure why you think someone is doing PCR testing in 90 minutes.

      Yes, SARS-COV-2 is an RNA virus. BFD. The first thing it does when it enters a cell is RT to make matching DNA to crank out more copies of the virus. That DNA is only present if there’s an infection, so testing for it is also an effective test method.

      • Doc Martin says:

        The Swab test currently used is essentially PCR and it takes 90mins. The Nudge test has not been evaluated where is the peer reviewed paper on it. I don’t mean a pre print.

        • Bill says:

          It’s essentially PCR in about the same way a violin is essentially a trombone.

          • Doc Martin says:

            If you check with the Lancet you will see I am correct. It has not been evaluated in a peer reviewed journal, in any case non-specialists using it will make a hash of it.

  • anon says:

    2020: When orchestras are sponsored by a virus testing company.

    Of all the demographics that could benefit from free, rapid Covid testing, orchestras wouldn’t have been on my top 100 list.

  • Player says:

    What about the audiences? Test them too, if need be!

    Get a test, have a drink or two, and if all clear, enter the hall. No social distancing.

    • Brettermeier says:

      “Get a test, have a drink or two”

      And what about the next 45 minutes?

    • Doc Martin says:

      A single test has no value. You need test data for time zero, 7 day 14 day, 21 day at least. The virus can incubate up to 14 days. A negative could mean a true negative or you have just got it but have insufficient viral load to be detected, or you have already had it and recovered. The test cannot distinguish between RNA fragments from patient samples containing live/dead virus.

      Track and Trace is the other issue which would need to be followed up at ticket booking. Hancock has outsourced it to Serco who sub-contracted it to call centres!

  • Andrew says:

    Are the employees compelled to supply their DNA to the commercial company in perpetuity? Does the LSO permit orchestra members who do not wish to be tested to work or does it assume it has the right to pry into their medical status as a pre-condition? For this eventuality only, or for others too?

    • Doc Martin says:

      No DNA in Sars-cov-2! It is RNA. I doubt this new test will be any good, it has not appeared in any peer reviewed medical journal.

    • Symphony musician says:

      Andrew, your comments are not relevant to the LSO. The players are not employees. The orchestra is self-governing, with a collective decision-making process. As they’re not employees they’re not salaried, therefore they won’t have qualified for the government furlough payments, so I doubt many of them will object to this means of getting back to work.

      • Anonymous says:

        Symphony Musician.
        Without these tests, the LSO is unable to accept any work, especially the Rattle Always Playing series, which is currently being rehearsed and released on YouTube. There are very strict procedures in place, I am told, in order for the LSO to work. And yes, all self employed, self governed and no furlough payments whatsoever these last five months! The online digital programme is very interesting.

  • Doc Martin says:

    A single test has no clinical value, you need at least two tests with a 5-7 day interval. This test has not been properly validated and Hancock et al are spending £161m on it. Madness.

  • Doc Martin says:

    I see Jolyon Maugham QC’s Good Law project may soon the government to Court over the daft Operation Moonshot, which is really Apollo 13. Thousands of Cov-19 tests have been binned because they were transported at the wrong temperature. One supplier has had to dump its kits and has been dropped.

    Thousands of swab tests taken already will never be analysed. Hancock et al the worst Health secretary since Lansley, has decentralised testing using various outsourcing to Serco and Deloitte who are getting trebles all round. Letting untrained users to do testing is madness.

    I heard a report of folk driving 20 miles for a test, being handed a test kit and 8 page manual and told to do it DIY! If they get sampling wrong, the test will be invalidated. The booking system does not get NI postcodes some of my patients get bookings for Scotland!

    If they could supply GP clinics we could do a much better job of it. A mobile test unit to rural locations is needed.

    I cannot see the value in testing an orchestra, without testing the audience, staff etc. One test alone is not sufficient, they would all need screening 5-7 days before a concert and 5-7 days afterwards.

  • Doc Martin says:

    Apparently some folk are having to tell a wee lie to get a cov-19 test booked. If you are low skilled or unemployed or play a fiddle, it seems it can be impossible, so some folk are saying they are key workers on the booking form. Hancock claims most have only a 6 mile journey to make, my experience is more it’s like 20 miles or more. The booking system is centralised and NI postcodes seem to completely banjax it, my colleagues tell me some patients say they have to go to Glasgow, which involves flying from Belfast! Clearly no one will take a journey that long. Hence they are lots to booked tests on the system which will never happen.

    PHE claims a test capacity of 100,000/day has risen to 375,000/day by 10 September, however 125,000 of these are actually antibody tests not swab tests. So if the capacity for swab tests is claimed as 250,000/day there would be a spare capacity of 60,000/day. This does not explain the test backlog.
    The turn around time (TAT) is the time it takes for the test results to be reported. Last month in England, about 70% of test results were being reported within 48 hours. This has steadily dropped off, by 10 September the TAT reduced to 10.5% within 48 hours. The significance of this is it makes trace and trace impossible if a day is lost in reporting results. Trace and trace is a vital part of the public health jigsaw. Hancock has made a real Horlicks of it by outsourcing it to firms like Serco, who then subcontract track and trace to various call centre firms!

    Then we have Bojo’s Operation Moonshot aka Apollo 13! Hancock says they plan to mobilise every lab and diagnostics firm in UK by introducing “new rapid Point of Care tests”, which at present are still in development and untrialled. The problem with these is they claim 99% accuracy, 1% will give false positive. So if they were to test 60m, 600,000 would be false positives and would be self isolating needlessly. If the prevalence of Sars-cov-2 is low in the population this will reduce the test accuracy further.
    In addition Sars-cov-2 can have an incubation period up to 14 days, so an initial negative test could arise with someone incubating the virus with a viral load which cannot be detected. The current tests are missing about 20% false negatives, meaning some folk could be spreading it unknowing and because of the risks of false negatives, testing before an event like an opera or concert cannot replace social distancing. In any case as I explained, the virus can incubate up to 14 days, so you would need to test 5-7 days before and 5-7 days afterwards with further testing up to 28 days. Those who have recovered from cov-19 can still get a positive result some weeks afterwards as the test cannot distinguish between RNA fragments derived from live and dead virus.