New rapid Covid-19 test developed by scientists

A rapid test for detecting Covid-19 has been developed by scientists.

A team at the University of South Wales has also created a portable device which can produce an accurate result in between 20 and 30 minutes without having to send a sample to the laboratory.

The test and device are being evaluated by Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and could be in use at its care homes within weeks.

The test uses different chemicals to the current accredited test, allowing the university to avoid bottlenecks in the global supply chain.

Emma Hayhurst and Jeroen Nieuwland
Emma Hayhurst and Jeroen Nieuwland (University of South Wales/PA)

News of the possible rollout came as the daily 5,000 testing target was being scrapped by the Welsh Government as figures showed less than 1,000 were being conducted a day.

Scientists have developed the new test to detect whether people are actively infected with the underlying Sars-CoV-2 virus.

The team has developed a prototype which cost less than £100 to manufacture and is based on work previously developed for the diagnosis of urinary tract infections.

Dr Jeroen Nieuwland said: “We have been developing our diagnostic testing platform for the last few years, so we know that it works well for other infections. So our work has enabled us to quickly switch it to detect the underlying virus for Covid-19.

“It is really pleasing to be able to support our frontline health workers, to help detect if they have the virus, and therefore either prevent further spread or to enable them to quickly return to work.”

HEALTH Coronavirus Wales
(PA Graphics)

Colleague Dr Emma Hayhurst said: “The really exciting thing is the potential for this technology to be used even wider than with health care workers.

“Our test could be used to help ramp up large-scale community testing, running potentially hundreds of samples a day in our lab alone, with a much shorter turnaround time than the current method.

“It could also be developed for point of care which would, for example, offer a solution to people who perhaps live and work in more rural areas.

The test could also be used in other care settings and industries, to help detect and prevent further spread of the virus.

“Crucially it is an affordable device which is simple to use, which should hopefully open up the options available for its use.”

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