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New tests for Covid-19
By Jerry Brownstein
One of the ways that we can get more control over the spread of Covid-19 is to have simple tests that give rapid results. The most common test is the PCR, but it is very intrusive and takes days to get a result. Many new tests are being developed and Yale University (US) created SalivaDirect which is simpler, faster, cheaper, and less invasive than the PCR. To take the test you merely spit a small amount of saliva into a cup, and you can get the results within 24 hours. It has been used by sports teams and schools in the US since September 2020.
Ben-Gurion University in Israel has developed a test that uses the breath to detect Covid-19 in less than one minute. This hand-held device captures tiny particles from the breath on a chip which is then read on a spectroscope. Within a minute you can tell if someone is carrying the virus. It is designed to be installed at ports and other busy places with each device able to process breath from over 4,000 people every day.
Another new test called BinaxNOW can give results in 15 minutes without the need for a lab. It is inexpensive and uses similar technology as a pregnancy test. The patient gets a nasal swab which is inserted into the Binax card, and a coloured line appears if they are positive for Covid-19. The test is made by the Abbot health care company, and they say that it correctly diagnoses an infection 97% of the time.