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New rapid COVID-19 test aims to “get ahead of the curve”

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CardiAI’s CoviLamp can give results in as little as 30 minutes

The CEO of a Canadian healthcare technology company CardiAI discusses the firm’s new rapid COVID-19 test which aims to get “ahead of the curve” of the virus. 

COVID-19 screening relies on sensitive and accurate detection of the SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA. RT-PCR, the conventional lab-scale method of viral RNA detection, is said to be time consuming, requires specialised training and advanced equipment. 

With CardiAI’s CoviLamp test, the viral RNA can be detected in as less than 30 minutes depending upon the viral load criteria of an individual lab with less specialised equipment and minimal training. 

The kit uses reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), which amplifies SARS-CoV-2 RNA faster than traditional RT-PCR with a colorimetric endpoint readout. 

CEO Dr Anmol Kapoor said: “The biggest challenge which healthcare systems are facing is how to increase testing capacity in various cities and centres around the globe. 

“There are two kinds of tests that can be done. One is an antibody or antigen-based task, and one is RNA-based and that has been the gold standard, and everyone is using PCR. 

“Our idea was to find a way where we could shorten this reaction time because the method which all the labs are trying to follow is slowing them down.  What if there is a new way, where the same machines could work and find a new method where we could expedite the result time and help increase the capacity.

“As we know with COVID, we need to get ahead of the curve, not behind the curve. If you want to beat COVID, we should be doing more tests daily, and we should be expanding our capacity. So, this is how the CoviLamp came into existence. 

The test does not require elaborate equipment to administer and can even be rolled out in developing countries without any medical infrastructure. 

“The antigen test works if the patient is symptomatic but every second patient with COVID has no symptoms.  

“CoviLamp and PCR methods both work on RNA and RNA is a sample that we take it from saliva and then we do amplification. Amplification can be done in a PCR or can be done without a PCR so you can pick up people who have no symptoms.

“Another puzzle is how could we help people in the developing countries who don’t have access to PCR? For example, India is barely doing 10% of the testing with PCR and rest is done through antigen or antibody-based testing.

“With CoviLamp, you don’t need a PCR machine, a hot plate could work. 

“You don’t need special scientific curves or scientific data. What it does is it changes colour if someone has COVID. So, this allows capacity in poor countries or neighbourhoods that lack access to these PCR machines. They could deploy this testing method at the point of care rapidly.”

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