Advertisement

Israeli researchers studying test that can detect coronavirus in under a second

In this June 23, 2020 photo provided by UC Berkeley, a student provides saliva for an experimental COVID-19 coronavirus test for asymptomatic people. A group of Israeli researchers is also working on a saliva detection test.
In this June 23, 2020 photo provided by UC Berkeley, a student provides saliva for an experimental COVID-19 coronavirus test for asymptomatic people. A group of Israeli researchers is also working on a saliva detection test. Irene Yi/UC Berkeley via AP

A newly developed saliva test aims to determine in less than a second whether or not you are infected with the novel coronavirus, Israel’s largest medical center said on Thursday.

Patients rinse their mouth with a saline wash and spit into a vial. This is then examined by a small spectral device that, in simple terms, shines light on the specimen and analyses the reaction to see if it is consistent with COVID-19.

With machine learning it gets more accurate over time.

Read more: How rapid coronavirus testing could help Canada flatten the curve

Eli Schwartz of the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, who is leading the trial, said it was easier to use than PCR swabs commonly used to detect COVID-19.

Story continues below advertisement

“So far we have very promising results in this new method which will be much more convenient and much cheaper,” he said.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

The center said in an initial clinical trial involving hundreds of patients, the new artificial intelligence-based device identified evidence of the virus in the body at a 95% success rate.

COVID-19: Canadian biotech company recalls rapid test kits
COVID-19: Canadian biotech company recalls rapid test kits

Amos Panet, an expert in molecular virology at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, said he would like to see more data and comparisons with existing tests before making a final judgment.

The amount of virus present in saliva increases as patients get sicker, he said, and a big challenge is to detect in “people who are borderline”.

“It will be a game changer only if we see validation of this technology against the current technology,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Sheba, located just outside Tel Aviv, has partnered with the device’s developer, Israeli firm Newsight Imaging, to bring the system to market.

The company said they are in the process of getting regulatory approval. Each test costs less than 25 cents and it expects the device will eventually cost less than $200.