U of G researchers develop method for quicker, more affordable testing for COVID-19
Using nasal swabs or saliva samples, researchers can screen thousands of samples within 8 to 16 hours
Researchers at the University of Guelph have developed a method that may be able to screen for COVID-19 in a faster and more affordable way by screening a large number of samples at a time.
Professor Paul Hebert and his team are using the same approach developed for DNA-based species surveillance to detect the virus that causes COVID-19.
Herbert said it would involve examining a single gene of the virus.
"We genetically tag 10,000 samples so they can be pooled for analysis," he said in a release.
"We then use these tags to connect sequences back to their source sample to ascertain the presence or absence of COVID-19."
Faster and cheaper
COVID-19 tests can cost between $40 to $100, but Herbert said testing in bulk can reduce the cost significantly.
By using nasal swabs or saliva samples, researchers can screen thousands of samples within an eight to 16-hour period at a cost of $1 per sample.
Herbert said processing thousands of samples daily is key to monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 and could allow for more informed decision making on the enforcement and relaxation of lockdowns.
"For example, the safe reopening of schools and workplaces will require upwards of 100,000 tests a week," he said.
"Given there is no vaccine for COVID-19, there is an urgent need for rapid, inexpensive screening around the world."