Fast New Tests for Covid-19 on the Way

At present, polymerise chain reaction (PCR) and antibody testing are the dominant ways that global healthcare systems are testing citizens for Covid-19. Both techniques have their caveats, and as the crisis unfolds researchers are looking into alternative ways to screen for the deadly disease.

Chloe Kent, Medical Writer at GlobalData, says “Canadian firm Sona Nanotech has been attempting to push a completely different kind of rapid screening test for Covid-19 to market. It’s a quick-response lateral flow assay, and the firm says it expects its test to produce results in five to 15 minutes, cost less than $50 and be administrable by untrained individuals.

“This isn’t a PCR test which requires a swab, a wait and specialist analysis to yield a result. Many antibody tests rely on lateral flow, but it isn’t one of those either, as Sona’s test will directly detect the Covid-19 virus.

“The ease-of-use of Sona’s technology should make it suitable for in-home testing and monitoring, to help identify if patients need treatment in a clinical facility. It should also be able to verify if people are ready for release from quarantine and to screen individuals prior to entering closed public venues like aeroplanes. As of March, the company has said it expects the test to be ready for use within the next few weeks.”

Kent adds “Bosch has also taken an innovative approach to Covid-19, developing a point of care swab test designed to produce results in under two and a half hours. Running on Bosch’s pre-existing Vivalytic analysis device, the company says the test is one of the world’s first fully automated molecular diagnostic tests that can be used directly by all medical institutions. Vivalytic consists of an analyser device and matching test cartridges. There are biological components in each of the cartridges that are used to prove whether a sample contains SARS-CoV-2 or nine other respiratory viruses. This eliminates the need for further tests if a patient doesn’t have Covid-19, but is presenting with one of the nine other infections. The will be made available in Germany in April, with other European markets to follow. Antibody tests will still be vital in determining any immunity that develops among the population, but these antigen tests can be used to confirm cases of active SARS-CoV-2 infection without PCR’s arduous process of laboratory testing. While Bosch’s Vivalytic system isn’t designed to leave healthcare settings, Sona’s is suitable for home use. What counts now is that these tests and others like them are actually able to make their way to the patients that need them.”

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