15 minute COVID-detecting nasal swab now FDA approved, tested at URMC

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It takes just 15 minutes. That’s what researchers are saying about a new $5 dollar nasal test to detect COVID-19. A clinical trial for that test happened here in Rochester, at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and became FDA-approved on Thursday.

“I definitely think this will be a lot easier to swallow for the public,” said Kian Merchant-Borna M.P.H., M.B.A., faculty in the URMC Department of Emergency Medicine.

He said it takes four simple steps. First, you start with a nasal swab. And no – it doesn’t go all the way to the back of your nose and throat like other tests.

“That nasal swab goes into a card, folds in half with a little drop of solution, anywhere between five and 15 minutes will read out a result,” he said.

He said it works like a pregnancy test. The technology is called ‘Lateral Flow’.

“It’s decades-old technology, but just applied to a new antigen, that antigen being the surface proteins on the viral particles of Coronavirus,” said Merchant-Borna. And the results read like a pregnancy test too: you look inside a window on the card – if there’s one line it’s positive, two lines is negative.

Merchant-Borna says soon, this testing will be widely available to the public. Part of this is thanks to well over 200 local volunteers.

“These are individuals that came in with suspicion of COVID-19 and were asked to participate, and so those that were willing, we took a nasal swab from them which was then tested on this COVID-19 test,” he said.

He said for now, instructions advise that a health care professional administer the test – but eventually, anyone in their home will be able to use it. For that reason, he’s calling it a major milestone.

“What’s so unique about this particular test, is it doesn’t require any lab equipment or any trained or technical personnel,” said Merchant-Borna.

Research on the test is still ongoing, Merchant-Borna said they were recently testing those symptomatic, and they will now begin testing those asymptomatic.

Tens of millions of these nasal tests will be shipped this month, according to the manufacturer Abbott BinaxNOW. Production is expected to ramp up to 50 mllion tests per month at the beginning of October.

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