A NEW “game-changing” coronavirus swab test could tell if you have the bug within 15 minutes.
Developed by British scientists, the £1.50 test works on saliva or blood and is able to detect particles of the coronavirus.
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Project leader Stephen Bustin, Professor of molecular medicine at Anglia Ruskin University, is a leading expert in quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR).
He said the throat and nose swab could give a “robust and reliable” response on whether a patient has the virus.
Prof Bustin said: “The test works on nucleic acid, so any biological sample will do. SARS is usually detected in nose or throat swabs.
“So that is what we have used for its validation. But it also works with saliva samples and would work with blood – although blood is not used for Covid testing.”
Prof Bustin added: “The estimated reagent cost would be about £1.50 per PCR sample.”
It comes as people across the country struggle to get a test through the NHS due to capacity constraints.
You can get a free test through the NHS at a testing site or you can have one posted to your home address.
The total number of lives now claimed by coronavirus sits at 41,902.
This comes as fewer than one in three people are getting their coronavirus test results back with 24 hours throwing track and trace efforts into chaos.
The latest official NHS Test and Trace data suggest the percentage of people receiving results within the 24 hour target had actually fallen from 66% at the start of the month to just 28.2 per cent this week.
The new Cov2-ID process could speed up the testing programme giving fast results to those who need them.
The swabs detect three viral targets and Prof Bustin says this makes it more reliable than other tests that just look at one.
The experts tested the swab on 30 patients and found that it was 100 per cent accurate.
Professor Bustin said: “A patient could feasibly take our test, wait in isolation, and receive results in less than 20 minutes.
“This would in turn prevent the laboratory backlog that is currently hampering efforts to stop the virus circulating in our community.”
He added: “The current pandemic has revealed shortcomings in global response procedures and it is essential, that public health institutes, regulatory bodies and standards organisations to adopt a shared set of guidelines, protocols and standards that allow a common and meaningful interpretation of any emerging molecular testing regimen.
“[The test] is robust, sensitive and is optimised for a rapid protocol, providing the opportunity for high throughput, multiplex viral detection with the potential to quantify viral load.
“Its design minimises the likelihood of assay failure causing false negative test results and its robustness provides a promise for its further development as an extreme polymerase chain reaction assay for use with point of care devices.”
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed and has been submitted to the journal of Nature Scientific Reports.
The experts said the swab would be ideal for use in school, offices and airports.
Prof Bustin added: “Unfortunately, the existing tests available for Covid-19 are inadequate for testing and monitoring populations for viral spread.
“The tests not only need to identify who has the virus, but they need to work quickly enough to stop them passing it on.”