Fast new coronavirus test uses saliva instead of nasal swab

The test shows novel coronavirus results in as little as 45 minutes. Developed in the BioFrontiers Institute at…
new coronavirus test

The test shows novel coronavirus results in as little as 45 minutes.

Developed in the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, the new test helps to find the disease in asymptomatic people. Since as many as “70% of SARS-CoV-2 infections in working- and school-age people are asymptomatic” there is a lot of “anxiety over reopening workplaces and schools around the world,” say researchers.

A postdoctoral associate named Nicholas Meyerson who worked on the test thinks it shows promise:

We are facing a serious testing shortage in this country right now as more people want to get tested and diagnostics labs are overwhelmed. We’ve developed a test that could get results to people much faster.

Nicholas Meyerson

A test like this, which is “low-complexity, portable, and robust,” would be good for community screening. While the processing of existing tests takes as many as nine days, this new test shows results within 45 minutes. And it does so simply: it uses color. If the pink color remains, that shows a negative result. However, if it changes to yellow, that means positive.

Also, the test forgoes the nasal swab. This is an unpleasant aspect of existing tests. Instead, the new test uses saliva.

The test needs more verification. But so far, it has worked well:

The test predicted with 100% accuracy all of the negative samples, and 29 of 30 positive samples were predicted accurately.

Nicholas Meyerson

The leader of the test’s development was virologist Professor Sara Sawyer. She discussed how important testing is, especially while a vaccine is still in the works. She gave the example of HIV:

Scientists have been working on an HIV vaccine for 30 years without success. Meantime, the HIV pandemic showed us that pervasive testing can make a big difference.

Professor Sara Sawyer

The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the new coronavirus test. However, the researchers put forth the test for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The EUA program allows the use of products in emergency situations without the products needing to go through the long full approval process.

Article source: CU Boulder Today

Featured image source: Glenn Asakawa

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