A small UK-based DNA testing company called DnaNudge has come up with a toaster-sized machine that can detect COVID-19 in just 90 minutes, Bloomberg reports, no lab analysis needed.
The UK’s National Health Service has already ordered 5,000 of the machines, as well as cartridges to start testing coronavirus patients, as part of a $211 million contract.
The machine was originally designed to help people tailor their diet based on their heredity, according to Bloomberg. But founder Christofer Toumazou, a professor at Imperial College London, made a U-turn in light of the growing pandemic.
“My dream has been to bring testing like this to the consumer,” Toumazou told Bloomberg. “A test that can demystify and simplify that quickly — rather than leaving people in doubt — is going to be very useful.”
All the machine needs is a nose swab or some saliva to detect traces of the coronavirus. It can even detect other diseases such as the flu and a common virus infection called Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). It will also notify the user if a proper sample has been taken or if a test needs to be retaken.
Bloomberg didn’t address the accuracy of the machine, which DnaNudge says could prove helpful in triaging potential COVID patients.
“If you have someone coming in and you’re not sure if they have COVID, you can make a decision about where they should go,” Graham Cooke, a professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College London, told Bloomberg. “You don’t want to put the wrong person in the wrong place.”
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