- University researchers in Turkey claim to have a new coronavirus test that relies upon a mouth swab instead of an invasive nasal swab
- The test is said to be 99% effective and can deliver results in just 10-20 seconds.
- Bill Gates believes that non-invasive COVID testing will become commonplace later this year.
Research scientists from Bilkent University in Turkey claim to have come up with a new coronavirus test that can be completed in just 10-20 seconds, according to a report from Euronews. Even more promising is that the test in question doesn’t involve a pesky nasal swab. Rather, the test involves taking a swab from a patient’s mouth, mixing it with a specialized solution, and then adding it to a “pathogen detection chip.”
According to one scientist involved with the research, “it detects the presence of pathogens with high accuracy by receiving a fluorescent signal.”
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While the current coronavirus test — which involves sticking a nasal swab into one’s nostrils — is perhaps not as painful as some early illustrations made it out to be, it’s still far from a pleasant experience. That said, any test that can make getting testing for COVID-19 more comfortable is a welcome development. More importantly, a quicker and more comfortable test will likely encourage more people to get tested and, in turn, help prevent asymptomatic carriers from unwittingly spreading the virus to others.
Researchers note that the test — which is the culmination of months of research — is 99% effective. The researchers are now trying to seek approval from the requisite Turkish governmental agencies and are hoping that it can ultimately replace the current PCR tests which rely upon a nasal swab. If all goes according to plan, the tests will enter mass production in two months.
“We achieved positive results in phase 2 studies,” researcher Bulend Ortac said. “We observed that the tests we carried out both in laboratory and hospitals on coronavirus patients yielded accurate results with a vast majority.
“While PCR has a high margin of error and yields results in two to three days into the illness,” Ortac went on to say, “our system yields results in the early stages of the illness in seconds. Besides, the reliability rate is very high, 99 percent.”
Incidentally, there’s a lot of ongoing research right now looking to replace PCR testing. In fact, Bill Gates recently opined on one of his GatesNotes entries that coronavirus testing is poised to become far less invasive in 2021.
One cool innovation that’s making this work possible is the ability to let people collect their own samples by swabbing the tip of their nose. (A study that we funded was the first to show that this is just as accurate as the standard nasopharyngeal swab.) If you’ve ever had one of the nasopharyngeal tests, you know how uncomfortable they are—and how they can make you cough or sneeze, which is bad news with a respiratory virus like COVID-19 because it increases risks to healthcare workers. With any luck, the days of the jam-a-stick-to-the-back-of-your-throat COVID-19 test will soon be over.
In the interim, nasal swabs remain the most accurate form of COVID-19 testing we have. The upside, though, is that getting tested for COVID-19 is more convenient now than ever before. Just a few weeks ago, for example, both Walmart and Sam’s Club began selling coronavirus home-testing kits for as little as $99. Once a sample is sent back, results are provided within 24-48 hours.