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Three UK universities pool their expertise to develop a sensitive Covid-19 self-test

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The University of Surrey, Lancaster University and Brunel University scientists are developing an easy-to-use test that can identify COVID-19 infection in half an hour.

This is a battery-operated, handheld device that relies on nasal or throat swabs to test for the virus. It can test six people at once, without sending samples to a laboratory. 

The test is currently used for veterinary purposes, but the team is now adapting it for human use and is calling on backers to help it mass produce the kits.

“Now that we know multiple genomes of COVID-19, we can develop the molecular test in a week and have it up and running on the device in three or four weeks. We are confident it will perform well and we urgently need industrial partners to come on board. This innovation is set to have a huge impact on society,” said Professor Wamadeva Balachandran from Brunel University London.

“With a fast response from manufacturers, we could deliver a point-of-care test kit to support mass-scale testing within the NHS and globally,” added Professor Roberto La Ragione, Deputy Head of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey. 

The team is also working on adding a telemedicine functionality to the mobile app that can control the device, track the users’ movements and contact anyone who has had a close interaction with the person diagnosed to suggest steps to take in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and spread. 

The estimated cost of the device is around £100 each to mass produce.

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