COVID-19 diagnosis under 5 mins; Oxford scientists develop new antigen test

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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COVID-19 Test
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Researchers at the Britain’s University of Oxford have developed a new rapid COVID-19 test which is capable of identifying the coronavirus in less than five minutes which can be a useful tool for mass testing at airports and public events.

The team of scientists hopes to begin the product development of a testing device by earlier 2021 with an intention to gather necessary approvals within the next 6 months.

In a pre-print study shared for reference, the researchers stated that the new device was capable to detect the coronavirus and differentiate it from other viruses with high accuracy.

Professor Achilles Kapanidis at Oxford’s Department of Physics remarked that “Our method quickly detects intact virus particles” making the test “simple, extremely rapid, and cost-effective”.

Rapid antigen tests are often seen as a critical component for mass testing and re-opening of economies amid the pandemic which continues to wreak havoc across the globe. These tests are already being used extensively for being fast and cheap but are less accurate than existing molecular PCR tests.

Siemens Healthineers came up with a new batch of apid antigen test kit in Europe to detect coronavirus infections but stakeholders that the industry may struggle to meet the significant rise in demand.

Even though the Oxford developed test kits are only expected to be ready by next year, they could help authorities manage the pandemic in time for next winter. Officials within healthcare have warned that everyone would have to live with the virus even if an effective vaccine is developed.

Dr. Nicole Robb from Warwick Medical School remarked that “A significant concern for the upcoming winter months is the unpredictable effects of co-circulation of SARS-CoV-2 with other seasonal respiratory viruses.

“We have shown that our assay (test) can reliably distinguish between different viruses in clinical samples, a development that offers a crucial advantage in the next phase of the pandemic,” Dr. Robb observed.