Thanks to a new rapid, portable, saliva-based testing method that faster COVID-19 testing can be deployable in community settings. The new testing method doesn’t only provide results within just 45 minutes but also without the need for painful nasal swabs.
“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,” MedicalXpress quoted Nicholas Meyerson, a postdoctoral associate in the Sawyer Lab at the BioFrontiers Institute at CU Boulder, as saying.
According to a preprint manuscript published in MedRxiv, the new test is designed for widespread screening of COVID-19 to help identify asymptomatic individuals. Previous research has pointed out that asymptomatic cases make up to 70% of infected individuals and this new testing method can help detect such cases.
The new testing method:
The user spits into a tube and a saliva-stabilizing solution gets added to it. The tube is then closed and is handed over to the testing staff who processes it via a simple system comprising of pipettes, a heating source, and an enzyme.
Test results: If the sample turns from pink to yellow, the person has tested positive for COVID-19. And if there is no color change, the result is negative.
Since no nasal swabs or fancy equipment is needed, this new testing method could be less vulnerable to backlogs and supply chain shortages.
Moreover, every test that has been approved so far has a mandate that, even if it’s saliva, it should be processed in a clinical diagnostic lab or at a doctor’s office using sophisticated equipment. This could take up to nine days in the current scenario.
This new testing method is based on a two-decade-old technology called ‘reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification’ which was previously used to diagnose the Zika virus in remote South American regions.
The researchers noted that the new testing method predicted results with 100% accuracy. However, they note that it might be slightly less sensitive than those done in clinical laboratories. But a separate computer modeling study revealed that quick turnaround for testing is even more critical than test sensitivity to curbing the pandemic.