COVID test can be as complicated like the time Tesla CEO Elon Musk tested both negative & positive for the virus in one day. They are also quite expensive.
However, a group of researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara have developed a new type of COVID testing system that uses an app on your phone and costs a 1/10 the price of a PCR test, according to Gizmodo.
The system is referred to as “smaRT-LAMP”, while the application it use is called Bacticount, and it is said that the results are to be accurate as like PCR test.
$7 per sample
“The virus that causes COVID19 has overlapping symptoms with other respiratory pathogens such as influenza that require different treatment strategies. In addition, antigen-based test kits have limited accuracy & more reliable PCR nucleic acid tests are expensive & time consuming.
With the Bacticount app and a new nucleic acid testing method, saliva samples can now be tested for COVID19 & influenza in about half an hour using a smartphone for $7 per sample,” reads Bacticount website.
How it works?
Simple. A patient puts some of their saliva into a test kit placed on a hot plate. The patient then adds a reactive solution whose role is to amplify the viral RNA. The resulting samples are placed into cardboard box with an LED light attached to the top.
This is when the smartphone camera works its magic. It is able to see at the top of the box & identify color reactions indicating whether or not the samples test positive for COVID19. In the presence of pathogens, samples will fluoresce with bright red-light.
50 patients sample
The test is still in its very early stages of development. Currently, it is based on a rather small sample size of just 50 patients, which means more research will be needed to ensure its effectiveness & accuracy. Still, research team behind it believe it can compete with the PCR tests found in doctors’ offices today. The researchers also say it can be modified to treat other COVID19 variants & viruses. Could this be the COVID19 test we’ve been waiting for? It is possible, but there is a limitation. Currently only works with Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphones.
If scientists can make it compatible with other phones, they may have the opportunity to do the COVID19 goto home test. We’ll keep our eyes out for that.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.