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Coronavirus

RIKEN Research Team Develops World’s Fastest COVID-19 Test

The Riken new test, while more expensive, can deliver accurate results in about 5 minutes, whereas the current PCR test requires about an hour.

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The RIKEN scientific institute and other research bodies have developed the world’s fastest COVID-19 test – one that can be used to diagnose COVID-19 in about 5 minutes. This is much faster than the current PCR test, which takes about 1 hour.

The team’s findings were published in an online British journal on April 19, and they expect to launch their test in 2 years’ time.

Under the new test, samples such as saliva and mucus are placed on a glass plate with countless indentations per square centimeter. If COVID-19 is present, light is emitted as a result of the virus mixing with a reagent contained within the indentations.

A result can then be reached within 5 minutes. Furthermore, the extent of the light emission gives an indication of the volume of the virus.

In the case of the PCR test, about an hour is necessary in order to extract and amplify genes before a result can be reached.

However, in the case of the RIKEN test, the highly sensitive nature of the reagent means that the detection process is much faster. 

It is also more accurate because it is less likely to yield a false-negative result due to issues such as deficient amplification.

The cost of the necessary reagent for one test is approximately 1,000 yen. This is about 500 yen more expensive than PCR, but the team expects the cost to go down due to mass production of the microchips needed for their test.

Rikiya Watanabe, a chief scientist at RIKEN, says that if the reagent can react to other viruses, then it could be used for rapid detection of other infections as well. He is keen to commercialize the test as quickly as possible.

(Read the Sankei Shimbun report in Japanese at this link.)

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Author: The Sankei Shimbun