Melbourne: Scientists have developed a new low-cost nasal swab test for COVID-19. This method of swab test can accurately diagnose the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in just 20 minutes. The findings have been published in the ‘Journal of Medical Microbiology’. It states the swab test called ‘N1-STOP-LAMP’, is 100 per cent accurate in diagnosing samples containing SARS-CoV-2 at high loads.
The rapid molecular test is highly accurate and easy to use. Hence it is a prime candidate for use in settings with limited testing capabilities. The researchers have said that the swab test is not very expensive.
The method involves using a small portable machine, which can reliably detect SARS-CoV-2 from just one nasal swab, they said. “In the race to control the COVID-19 pandemic, access to rapid, precision diagnostics is the key,” said Tim Stinear. He is a professor at the University of Melbourne here.
“We have developed an alternative COVID-19 molecular test that can be readily deployed in settings where access to standard laboratory testing is limited or where ultra-rapid result turnaround times are needed,” Stinear added.
This new test uses only one tube and involves only a single step. Hence it is more efficient and less expensive than many of the current tests for COVID-19.
The N1-STOP-LAMP method was found to be 100 per cent accurate and correctly identified 87 per cent of tests as positive when used to assess 157 confirmed-positive samples. The results were fast, with an average time-to-positive of 14 minutes for 93 of those clinical samples.
“We see this kind of technology having benefit in settings liked aged care facilities, or overseas laboratories with limited resources and equipment,” Stinear said. “The test requires a small shoebox-sized machine, as well as reagents, but everything is portable,” he added.
The researchers noted that STOP-LAMP is what is referred to as a ‘near care’ test. It is not intended to replace the current gold standard PCR testing. It’s a robust diagnostic test for the specific and rapid detection of COVID-19,. However, it’s important to note that it trades some detection sensitivity for speed and ease-of-use, the researchers informed.