A sample being taken from a man to test for the coronavirus infection in Abeokuta, Nigeria. The UK researchers say their new test could increase testing capability by up to five times, enabling a much quicker diagnosis for COVID-19/Photo: Flying Doctors Nigeria

UK University develops 5-minute test for COVID-19

Scientists at the University of Birmingham said on Tuesday that they had developed a new COVID-19 test capable of delivering results in less than five minutes.

According to the university, the new test simplifies the testing method to a single step and uses an alternative amplification method called Exponential Amplification Reaction (EXPAR).

The new test can reduce testing time from 30 minutes to less than five and deliver accurate results, British media reported.

It can be performed using standard laboratory equipment, compared to Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests, which require higher temperatures to separate out strands of DNA as part of the amplification process, according to the university.

Professor Jim Tucker, from the University’s School of Chemistry, says: “The EXPAR technique has been tried and tested over several years, but we’ve been able to apply it in a new way to detect COVID-19. This is an extremely promising approach to developing a rapid, accurate test which could increase NHS testing capability by up to five times.”

Professor Andrew Beggs, from the University’s Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, says: “More rapid testing will allow us to unlock near patient testing, getting people safely back to work and controlling outbreaks when they happen. The development of the EXPAR test will allow us to produce more tests that can rapidly diagnose COVID-19”.

The announcement came hours after England entered a national lockdown starting from Tuesday, the third of its kind since the coronavirus pandemic began in Britain.

Abeeb Alawiye

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