One second Covid spit test could slash waiting times and help the world reopen post-pandemic

A COVID test which gives results in just one second could help the world reopen post-pandemic, scientists hope.

A pocket-size gadget which can detect the virus – and even how strong it is – has been developed by experts, which can give results almost immediately from a tiny amount of saliva or blood.

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Researcher Minghan Xian, of the University of Florida said the new test could alleviate slow Covid-19 testing turnaround time issues.

He added: “Our testing strips are similar to commercially available glucose test strips used by diabetics.

“Electrodes are exposed to blood or saliva. One is coated with gold and Covid antibodies. Our sensor system uses a transistor to amplify the electrical signal, which then gets converted into a number on the screen.

“The magnitude of this number depends on the concentration of antigen, the viral protein, present within our test solution.”

Details of the new testing system were published in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology.

The team has demonstrated a similar technique that diagnoses the Zika virus, heart attacks and cerebral spinal fluid leaks.

Detecting coronavirus requires screening for small segments of DNA – such as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests.

They can be tracked in the body before antibodies form – or symptoms of the disease are present.

TEST, TEST, TEST

PCR tests are seen as the "gold standard" across the board when it comes to Covid testing – but can take over 48 hours to get a result.

Current lateral flow tests take around half an hour to show a result, but they are fiddly and not very accurate.

The new test system is also potentially much cheaper and less wasteful because the gadget is reusable.

Its inventors believe it can be altered slightly to test for other viruses and illnesses including heart attack.

The development from experts at the University of Florida comes after scientists in the US also developed a new test for Covid that could give you results in just 15 minutes.

The test uses a fluorescent light to search for antigens that belong to Covid-19.

The test from the University of Santa Cruz experts starts with a nose swab which is then examined with a fluorescent light. The probe will then light up if it detects a specific virus.

In order to develop the tests the experts created a new molecule which was coded to look for both Covid antigens and those that are present when someone has the flu.

No extra equipment is needed as the molecule will shine bright enough so that someone administering the test can see.

 

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