Oxford scientists create super-fast coronavirus test, with results in five minutes

Scientists from Oxford University have developed a super-fast diagnostic test for coronavirus, able to identify COVID-19 in less than five minutes, according to an announcement made on Thursday by the researchers. Good news for public events, airports, and businesses, as scientists say it could be used for mass testing. The product development will start in early 2021, and the testing device should be available six months afterward.

The test can identify a range of viruses including influenza and SARS-CoV-2. “Our test is much faster than other existing diagnostic technologies; viral diagnosis in less than five minutes can make mass testing a reality, providing a proactive means to control viral outbreaks”, said Nicolas Shiaelis, one of the researchers who helped develop the test.

The test uses a convolutional neural network to classify microscopy images
of single intact particles of different viruses. Photo credit: University of Oxford

Achilles Kapanidis, professor at Oxford’s Department of Physics said: “Our method quickly detects intact virus particles”, adding that this would make the test “simple, extremely rapid, and cost-effective”.

The method involves throat swabs and rapid labeling of the samples with short fluorescent DNA strands. Images of the samples are then collected using a microscope. Each image contains hundreds of fluorescent labeled viruses. Machine-learning software then quickly identifies the virus present in a sample.

Source: University of Oxford
Photo: Maghreb-post.de