A rapid coronavirus testing kit which can detect the presence of the disease in six different people every 30 minutes is one step closer to coming to market, experts have said.
The portable device can be used in areas with large concentrations of people, such as care homes, sizeable employers and airports.
Brunel University London, Lancaster University and the University of Surrey have joined forces with GB Electronics (UK) Ltd, Inovo Robotics and Unique Secure to develop the inexpensive, rapid diagnostic test kit and make it widely available.
The new partnership will bring together industry and academic experts in the fields of electronic and software engineering, diagnostics, virology, robotics and artificial intelligence to fast-track the development of a new Covid-19 testing kit.
The portable testing device can carry out six highly accurate tests every 30 minutes, and quickly determine if someone has Covid-19.
Results from the current virus detection tests normally take several hours to process.
Clinical tests in three NHS hospitals will begin shortly to validate the performance of the test kit.
Professor Wamadeva Balachandran, from Brunel University London, said: “There remains an urgent need to develop testing for Covid-19 which is quick and inexpensive.
“This will enable those who test positive to self-isolate as quickly as possible, helping to reduce the spread of the virus.
“I am delighted that GB Electronics, Inovo Robotics and Unique Secure have joined us on this exciting project. Their expertise will help accelerate the development of this test on a mass scale to minimise loss of lives.”
Henry Woods, co-founder of Inovo Robotics, said: “We are very pleased to be involved in this important work with the three universities.
“Many vulnerable people around the world have had limited or no access to fast Covid-19 virus testing during the pandemic. We see the potential to make a real difference in limiting the spread of the virus through this technology.”
The battery-operated, hand-held, smartphone-linked device is easy to use.
It works by taking nasal or throat swabs, that are put into the device, which then reveals if someone has Covid-19.
The samples do not need to go to a laboratory.