S'pore researchers invent Covid-19 test that can tell if someone's infected in 5 minutes

Sounds promising.

Syahindah Ishak | March 25, 2020, 03:33 PM

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A team of scientists at Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) has developed a new test which will be able to tell if someone is infected with Covid-19 in as fast as five minutes.

How it works

A patient's secretions are first collected from a swab.

The test then looks for the genetic material of Covid-19 in the secretions.

After that, the sample will be put in a portable device which will give the result in about five to 10 minutes.

According to The Straits Times, the test uses an extremely rapid amplification method that the team have named "Cepat", which also happens to mean 'fast' in Malay.

Professor Jackie Ying, who heads the NanoBio Lab at A*Star said,

"We have done some preliminary clinical validation at the KK Women's and Children's Hospital using real patients' samples, and found the test to be very sensitive and accurate."

Fastest test in the world if approved

The team hopes to submit an approval for the test in the next month.

If approved, this would be the fastest Covid-19 test globally as of now.

The test can then be used in hospitals, as well as in general practitioner clinics.

The scientists had worked on this test for around six weeks after A*Star's chief executive Frederick Chew gave them the challenge of coming up with rapid tests for Covid-19.

Standard lab tests take about two to three hours before showing results, and about 60 per cent of time is spent "molecular photocopier" to heat up, ST explained. 

The "molecular photocopier" amplifies the genetic material of a virus to enable easy detection.

Using an enzyme the team has developed, however, Cepat can "photocopy" the virus' DNA/RNA within a minute.

Another detection test kit developed by local firm

Another Singapore-based firm, Veredus Laboratories, had previously developed a three-hour detection test kit for Covid-19.

The test kit had obtained provisional authorisation from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), and has been deployed at the air, sea and land checkpoints.

They are also used directly by labs and hospitals to test patients for clinical diagnosis.

The entire screening process is completed in three hours.

The test also has an accuracy of more than 99 per cent and is able to identify Covid-19 with high specificity and sensitivity.

Top image from NanoBio Lab/FB.