Coronavirus: faster screening tests soon to be available?

Published by Caroline J., Laurent P. · Published on 22 May 2020 at 14h48 · Updated on 22 May 2020 at 14h51
While the World Health Organization recalls how important it is to systematically perform screening tests to curb the spread of coronavirus, scientists from the Oxfort university announce they have developed a “much faster” test and “requires only relatively simple equipment”. In France, the development of this kind of tests is finally springing.

Test, test, test!” This is what World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has highly recommended this past March 16th.

Unlike South Korea that reported 295,000 coronavirus screening tests on March 18th, France doesn’t have the same strategy.

On Thursday March 19th, during questions asked to the government at the National Assembly, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe made the most of it to bring more details as for testing in the country, “We have elaborated a test doctrine that consisted first to test a lot and this testing logic enable to contain rather efficiently the first outbreaks of the virus, which bought us time” he said.

Today, the testing doctrine is that we test only people showing symptoms, healthcare staff presenting symptoms, first responders that presented symptoms in a nursing home” he recalled. “Today, it’s not necessary to mass test everyone preventively or depending on symptoms” he added before saying that a tests generalization would have consequences on “analysis capacities and we would not have answers quickly enough where it’s absolutely necessary”.

Faster tests being studied at the Oxford University

Moving on to the Oxford University, they’ve announced this Wednesday they developed “a much faster test”. This March 18th, Chinese scientists working at the university have announced they found a “much faster” solution. And how does it actually work? According to Libération, the nasal swab is scattered into three vials and have them react with a chemical product.

The goal? Detecting COVID-19 RNA. The scientist analyses the color of both vials. If they turn yellow, the test is positive. The advantage? How quick it is, half an hour is enough to get results. Another strong asset: it requires a few equipment that is to say a heating box to keep RNA at constant temperature is enough.

Situation in France

So far, tests performed in main French hospitals have been developed by the Institut Pasteur. If collection takes a few seconds, the analysis is longer since the swab has to be sent to the closest specialized laboratory. But the development of fast tests is moving forward in France…. After the Breton serological tests by NG Biotech, clinically validated, it’s time for BioSpeedia to develop a quick testing technique with serological tests via immunochromatography. Tests are already being validated by Saint-Etienne University Hospital as informed by  Francetvinfos.

Also note that the Minister of the Armed Forces – through a call for project conducted by Defence Innovation Agency – has also decided to finance another project, NOMORECOV developed by Ile-de-France SMB BforCure and offering “a mobile, modular and connected robot to quickly screen test a coronavirus infection (in under 30 minutes)”.

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