10-minute pocket-sized coronavirus diagnostic test kit that costs less than $1 to produce is heading into a testing stage and if successful, could go into full-scale production and would probably be available to the public as early as June.
The testing kit is similar to a home pregnancy kit and it is being produced by a Senegalese research institute, foundation Institut Pasteur de Dakar in partnership with U.K.-based Mologic Ltd.
The prototype test kit is scheduled to begin a validation process on Thursday and the test could be rolled out by June if the trials are successful. The finger-prick test will determine whether a person had the illness and the state of his or her immune system. The company is also working on a separate saliva test to detect the presence of the virus.
After an initial assessment in the U.K., the prototypes will be sent to other laboratories for validation in a process that could take three to four months, said Paul Davis, Mologic’s chief scientific officer. “Full-scale manufacturing will begin a few weeks before we release it on the market,” “We want to make it available to everyone.”
Other diagnostic companies are focusing on how to automate the process of PCR lab tests. The prices range between $40 and $100 in the US, and also involve some level of accuracy sacrificed for speed.
Testing is widely seen as the key to containing outbreaks, particularly in countries with limited healthcare systems.