CORONAVIRUS/NHRI develops rapid screening kit for SARS-CoV-2

04/02/2020 02:12 PM
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Taipei, April 2 (CNA) Taiwan's National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) announced Thursday that it has developed a rapid testing kit that can screen patients for SARS-CoV-2, the strain of conoravirus that causes COVID-19, in as little as 10-15 minutes.

The test involves inserting a cotton swab into the patient's nose to collect a fluid sample, then placing the swab onto a test strip, which changes color depending on what strain of virus the patient is infected with, the NHRI said.

Sytwu Huey-kang (司徒惠康), vice president of the NHRI, said that after more than a month of research, it was discovered that the antibodies of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which had a major outbreak in Taiwan in 2003, can also be used to screen for SARS-CoV-2.

Test results can be obtained in about 10-15 minutes, Sytwu said, noting that this type of kit is relatively cheaper than nucleic acid tests (NAT), a technique used to detect a particular nucleic acid sequence, such as identifying a particular species or subspecies of virus or bacteria.

Once available, the rapid tester could be used by frontline medical professionals to identify suspected COVID-19 patients as efficiently as possible, he explained.

The NHRI is expected to hold a meeting next week with several manufacturers in Taiwan to discuss the possibility for a trial production run of the testing kit, he said.

However, he stressed that it is still uncertain when the testing kit can begin clinical use.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Ko Lin)

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