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New Chinese Covid test could be accurate as PCR, shows result in 4 min

Beijing, Feb 8 (IANS) Chinese scientists have developed a new Covid-19 testing device which, according to them, is as accurate as the widely used PCR tests and can present results within four minutes.

The new device, developed by researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai, uses tiny mechanical components made of DNA combined with microelectronics to detect genetic material in a swab sample and convert it to an electrical signal, the South China Morning Post reported.

The device is connected to a computer or smartphone to show a result.

“(The test) may be advantageous in that it offers rapid detection of Sars-CoV-2 nucleic acids, easy operation, high sensitivity and specificity, and portability,” the team wrote in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Even as the world grapples with a spike in Covid-19 cases caused by the highly infectious Omicron and Delta variants, the demand for Covid testing kits has also intensified.

But unlike the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests currently in use, the new device would not require time-consuming laboratory analysis.

Instead the test could detect the virus in under four minutes — with an average time of one minute — in all swab samples from 33 people who had been confirmed by the gold-standard PCR tests to have Covid-19, the researchers said.

Further, the test also did not return false positives from the 54 samples from people who did not have Covid-19, the report said.

This group included 23 people who had a fever but negative PCR test results, along with six people with influenza and 25 healthy volunteers.

If developed further, the device could be used for testing in airports, clinics, emergency departments and homes, they researchers noted.

The Fudan researchers also stated that the device could be used in future to quickly detect other diseases.

“Besides Covid-19, the development of the molecular electromechanical system could allow for the ultraprecise diagnosis of other diseases in a few minutes, without the need for target purification, amplification or culture, which normally requires hours or days,” they said.




Sidharth Shukla

Nora Fatehi

Kajal Aggarwal

Himanshi Khurana

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