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Oxford University Scientists Develop ‘Extremely Fast’ 5-Minute COVID-19 Test



Oxford University’s Radcliffe Camera earlier this year after students were sent home and tourists urged to stay away from the city.

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Scientists at the University of Oxford have developed an “extremely fast” COVID-19 test that can produce results in less than five minutes, the university said Thursday.

The researchers hoped the test could eventually be used in airports, music venues and businesses to quickly create COVID-free spaces.

The university said it hopes to begin product development in early 2021, with an approved device available within six months. He is currently working to create a spinout company, seeking investment to accelerate testing in a fully integrated device.

Earlier this week, Siemens Healthineers
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has launched a rapid antigen test that can identify the virus within 15 minutes, with the intention of placing it for emergency use clearance by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Oxford test can identify SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with “high accuracy,” researchers said in a preprint study that has yet to be peer-reviewed. It can also differentiate the virus from other infections such as influenza and seasonal human coronaviruses, the study added.

Professor Achillefs Kapanidis, from the Oxford Department of Physics, said: ‘Our method quickly detects intact viral particles; which means the test is simple, extremely fast and cost-effective.’

The method involves taking throat swabs, which are then scanned for viral particles. Machine learning software then “quickly and automatically” identifies the virus in the sample, taking advantage of the fact that different viruses have distinct surface chemistry, sizes and shapes.

While the breakthrough cannot be developed into a fully functional mass testing device until the latter part of 2021, it could help countries and economies fight next winter’s pandemic.

Dr Nicole Robb, assistant professor at Warwick Medical School and co-lead researcher, said: “A significant concern for the coming winter months is the unpredictable effects of SARS-CoV-2 co-circulation with other seasonal respiratory viruses. .; we have shown that our essay [test] can reliably distinguish between different viruses in clinical samples, a development that offers a crucial advantage in the later phase of the pandemic. “

The University of Oxford has also partnered with the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca
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to develop a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, whose phase 3 study remains suspended in the United States but has been restarted elsewhere after a UK volunteer fell ill.


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