US scientists come up with cheap Covid test relying on low-tech kit, smartphone. Find out how does it work

WION Web Team
New York Updated: Jan 29, 2022, 02:17 PM(IST)

A team of scientists in the US has developed a highly sensitive Covid test, which relies only on low-tech kit and a smartphone (representative image). Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

This test uses a process, which is called Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (Lamp), to amplify viral RNA in the saliva and detect specific target genes. The freely available app uses a smartphone’s camera to identify colour changes indicating a chemical reaction and determines a diagnosis in just 25 minutes

With coronavirus still spreading, several researchers are making strenuous efforts to come up with new and advanced ways of detecting the virus.  

One such team of scientists in the US has developed a highly sensitive Covid test, which relies only on low-tech kit and a smartphone. It could be used as a quicker and cheaper alternative to PCR testing.  

This 25-minute saliva test provides a highly reliable platform for testing at the workplace or home, as per the team of researchers.  

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This test only needs a basic lab kit, which includes a cardboard box, a small hot plate and LED light. This whole package can cost less than £75 ($100).  

The cost of the whole test including the reagents is about a 10th of a PCR test. This is also cheaper than a lateral flow test.   

The findings of the study have been published in JAMA Network Open journal.  

This test uses a process, which is called Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (Lamp), to amplify viral RNA in the saliva and detect specific target genes.   

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The freely available app uses a smartphone’s camera to identify colour changes indicating a chemical reaction and determines a diagnosis in just 25 minutes. On testing 50 patients with coronavirus, it matched PCR testing for sensitivity.   

“As new Covid variants emerge globally, testing and detection remain essential to pandemic control efforts,” said Dr Michael Mahan of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also the lead author of the study.   

(With inputs from agencies) 

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