October 19, 2020 — Scientists at the Oxford University physics department have developed a COVID-19 test that can identify the virus in 5 minutes or less, according to a news release from the university.
The speed in returning results means the test could be used in businesses, airports, and music venues to help provide coronavirus-free spaces, the release said. Rapid-result testing is considered an important part of reopening national economies during the pandemic.
The researchers hope to start producing the test in early 2021 and have an approved device on the market within six months.
“Unlike other technologies that detect a delayed antibody response or that require expensive, tedious and time-consuming sample preparation, our method quickly detects intact virus particles; meaning the assay is simple, extremely rapid, and cost-effective,” said physics professor Achilles Kapanidis.
The test may be available in time to help nations manage the pandemic during the winter months.
“A significant concern for the upcoming winter months is the unpredictable effects of co-circulation of SARS-CoV-2 with other seasonal respiratory viruses; we have shown that our assay can reliably distinguish between different viruses in clinical samples, a development that offers a crucial advantage in the next phase of the pandemic,” said Dr. Nicole Robb formerly a Royal Society Fellow at the University of Oxford and now at Warwick Medical School.
The development was announced on the preprint server MedRxiv.
Siemens Healthineers also announced the launch of a rapid antigen test kit in Europe that could provide a result in 15 minutes. The test also uses a nasopharyngeal swab and would not require a laboratory, Siemens said in a news release.
“This rapid antigen test makes testing available to more people across a wider variety of settings—particularly in locations that need to test people quickly such as airports or that have limited access to laboratory resources such as schools,” Siemens said in a news release.
The company said it may apply for authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.