A group of researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara has developed a new, cheaper method for testing for COVID-19 at home.
According to the scientists, these tests would include a smartphone camera as well as an app.
How does it work?
The testing system uses some basic lab equipment along with the Bacticount app to detect potential pathogens in a person’s saliva.
To use it, it is necessary to introduce a sample of the fluid into a test kit that is left on a hot plate. Then a reagent solution is added that serves to amplify the viral RNA, in a process similar to that applied in current COVID-19 home tests.
After the viral RNA is amplified, it is placed in a cardboard box with an LED light on top. Thus, the camera of the smartphone can observe the interior of the box detecting the presence of the virus.
If viral load is present, the solution should show a bright red light. If the viral load is higher, therefore more contagious, the warning light should appear faster.
Meanwhile, the mobile application would serve to estimate that viral load based on the speed with which the red light appears.
The researchers assure that this type of test could have the same precision as that offered by a PCR test.
These tests were carried out on a group of 50 people, so the scientists indicate that more massive tests are necessary before starting to distribute the test commercially.