Oxford scientists develop 5-minute COVID-19 antigen test

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New Delhi (NVI): University of Oxford’s scientists have developed a rapid antigen COVID-19 test able to identify the coronavirus in less than five minutes and could be used in mass testing at airports and businesses.

The university said it hoped to start product development of the testing device in early 2021 and have an approved device available six months afterwards.

Researchers aim to develop an integrated device to eventually be used for Covid-19 testing in sites such as businesses, airports etc, the University of Oxford said in a statement.

The method, published on the preprint server MedRxiv, is able to differentiate with high accuracy SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, from negative clinical samples, as well as from other common respiratory pathogens such as influenza and seasonal human coronaviruses, the statement added.

The scientists have worked with clinical collaborators at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford to validate the assay on COVID-19 patient samples which were confirmed by conventional RT-PCR methods.

Rapid antigen tests are seen as key in rolling out mass-testing and re-opening economies while the coronavirus is still circulating, and those that are already in use are faster and cheaper but less accurate than existing molecular PCR tests.

“A significant concern for the upcoming winter months is the unpredictable effects of co-circulation of SARS-CoV-2 with other seasonal respiratory viruses,” said Dr Nicole Robb, of Warwick Medical School.

“We have shown that our assay (test) can reliably distinguish between different viruses in clinical samples, a development that offers a crucial advantage in the next phase of the pandemic,” Robb added.

-CHK