A team of scientists led by Technion Professor Naama Geva-Zatorsky is developing a kit that would allow for simple and inexpensive COVID-19 testing in the safety and comfort of your home, with results in under an hour. The kit could be critical in expanding the number of people who get tested, key to reopening the economy in the U.S. and Israel.
Users immerse a saliva sample in a test tube with chemicals known as reagents and then into a cup of hot water. If the coronavirus is present, the color changes, no lab required.
The test proved accurate in identifying 99% of cases when tested on standard swabs with medium and high concentrations of the virus. A secondary test is necessary for samples of low concentration. Prof. Geva-Zatorsky is continuing to study how to improve sensitivity to the virus in low concentrations.
If the kit is approved by Israel’s Ministry of Health, it could be used for mass testing in the workplace and other points of care such as nursing homes, airports, and drive-through facilities. In addition to helping jumpstart the economy, the test would relieve the demand by medical workers for personal protective equipment.
The biobank at Technion-affiliated Rambam Health Care Campus, which supplied the biological samples used for the test, is Israel’s first for coronavirus. It will be used not only for COVID-19 diagnosis and verification but also for research.
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