Europe

Covid test that detects virus in five minutes developed in UK

Scientists have developed a rapid Covid test that can identify coronavirus in less than five minutes.

Oxford University experts said it hoped to start product development of the testing device in early 2021 and have an approved device available six months afterwards.

The device is able to detect coronavirus and distinguish it from other viruses with high accuracy, the researchers said.

‘Our method quickly detects intact virus particles,’ said Professor Achilles Kapanidis, adding that this meant the test would be ‘simple, extremely rapid, and cost-effective’.

Rapid antigen tests are seen as key in rolling out mass-testing and re-opening economies while the coronavirus is still circulating, and those that are already in use are faster and cheaper but less accurate than existing molecular PCR tests.

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Siemens Healthineers yesterday announced the launch of a rapid antigen test kit in Europe to detect coronavirus infections, but warned that the industry may struggle to meet a surge in demand.

Although the Oxford platform will only be ready next year, the tests could help manage the pandemic in time for next winter.

Health officials have warned that the world will need to live with coronavirus even if a vaccine is developed.

‘A significant concern for the upcoming winter months is the unpredictable effects of co-circulation of SARS-CoV-2 with other seasonal respiratory viruses,’ said Dr Nicole Robb, of Warwick Medical School.

‘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.’ 

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