Australian researchers have designed a 15-minute COVID-19 test which could provide a silver bullet for the country’s internal travel and border woes.
University of Technology Sydney scientists say they have developed a sensitive saliva test which can pick up SARS-CoV-2 viral fragments in less than 15 minutes.
With a hard border in place in Western Australia and travel restrictions of varying severity implemented across Australia’s other states, the researchers say rapid COVID-19 testing could boost virus detection and help in the screening of travellers.
It could also be useful in hospital, aged care and employment settings.
The test prototype is set to be manufactured in Perth and would cost less than $25 per test.
Laboratory trials on live virus are expected to begin before Christmas.
UTS’ Dr Dayong Jin said in a statement on Monday that the test was sensitive enough to detect the presence of as little as a trillionth of a gram of SARS-CoV-2 viral fragments.
“A person with COVID-19 may be contagious 72 hours before starting to show symptoms. With the sensitivity of our optical technology, we aim to identify the viral protein in saliva from asymptomatic but already infectious patients,” Dr Jin said in a statement.
“This would allow for much more effective contact tracing and rapid discovery of pockets of disease before it is transmitted to others.”