During the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic, countries faced a lack of testing due to the limited resources available. There have been efforts to tackle this problem since then. Since the testing devices are very much in need even now, a team of engineers from MIT and Harvard University has designed a small device to test for the virus. The device will detect and report SARS-CoV-2 from a saliva sample in an hour. They claim that the test results are as accurate as a PCR test.
The team also claims that the device can identify mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2 that have been reported in many countries. It will also be easier to track down the variants since the test result will be available within an hour. The device can be assembled at $15. And the researchers claim that the price will come down if it is produced on a large scale.
The team carried out the test initially with human saliva infested with synthetic SARS-CoV-2 RNA sequences and then they tested with 50 samples of patients who had tested positive for coronavirus. The study found that the results were as accurate as PCR tests but PCR tests use nasal swabs and take more time. The device will put forward a fluorescent readout that anyone can see with their naked eye. The team has also come up with an app that can read the results and send them to public health departments for better tracking.
The researchers are waiting for the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the mass production of the device. It would prove very useful in areas where there is no access to PCR tests and users can also test themselves at home with this device.