International team of researchers create rapid COVID-19 test

Results in seconds, similar to glucose monitor
Posted at 6:00 AM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 09:00:24-04

GAINESVILLE, Florida (KGTV) - A group of researchers, including people from Florida and Taiwan, say they've created a way to test for COVID-19 that gives results in seconds, not minutes.

"You'll find out immediately," says Dr. Josephine Esquivel-Upshaw from the University of Florida's College of Dentistry. "We've demonstrated that this sensor is very sensitive and can detect the virus at very low concentrations, almost instantly."

The team, which includes researchers from UF and the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan, just published their first report on the test.

It uses testing strips and a meter similar to glucose testing for diabetes patients. Instead of requiring a blood sample, the strips respond to saliva.

"The electrodes on the test strip are immobilized with the antibody that is specific to the Coronavirus itself," explains Minghan Xian, a Ph.D. Candidate at UF's Department of Chemical Engineering.

They also say using saliva would make it one of the most accessible tests on the market.

"It's not invasive," says Dr. Esquivel-Upshaw. "It's not the one that goes up your nose and down the back of your throat. It doesn't do blood. It's saliva. You simply spit on it or put the strip in your mouth."

According to the research, the strip and associated meter can detect incredibly small levels of Coronavirus plaque and COVID-19 Spike Peptides in saliva. That helps them determine a positive/negative result and how much of the virus is present in the body.

They hope the test will make it safer to reopen large venues, where a negative result would be required for entry.

"That's the ultimate goal," says Dr. Esquivel-Upshaw. "To test (people) immediately, you know, before you enter a theater, before you go to a football game, before you go to a concert, and make sure that everybody is safe and not contagious."

The team will start clinical trials soon. Beyond the Pandemic, they say the test could be modified to help detect Zika, heart disease, or whatever disease comes along in the next pandemic.