New smartphone-powered, low-cost COVID-19 testing kit to help widespread testing

We may be one step closer to effectively containing the COVID-19 pandemic by way of mass testing. Technology to test viral spread among chicken in Philipines comes to the rescue of COVID-19 testing in humans. Researchers from Brunel University, Lancaster University, and the University of Surrey have developed a new type of test based on this technology, which could provide results in as little as 30 minutes.

The test consists of battery-operated, hand-held hardware and an individual swab sample kit that costs around $125. It connects to a smartphone to provide diagnostic results without requiring the samples to be sent to a lab for diagnosis. Unlike other rapid tests that are in use today in China and the EU, which rely on the antibodies, this test detects the presence of the viral genetic material. Hence it can be even administered to asymptotic individuals, which is crucial in curtailing the community spread.

Similar on-site testing methods are in use today, which includes machines and kits from Cephid and Mesa Biotech. However, these require expensive table-top micro-labs and is mainly set up in healthcare facilities.

The main advantage of the test developed by UK researchers are

  • Test runs on in-expensive hardware
  • Ability to test up to 6 people at once
  • Widespread testing – can be deployed in hospitals, workplaces, and homes

According to the researchers, once local health agencies like the FDA approve this test, it can be made available for use within a few weeks.

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Source: TechCrunch

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