Since it first appeared at the end of 2019, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has proven adept at spreading rapidly throughout entire populations. To stop the virus in its tracks, we need to be able to quickly identify people who are infected, including those with little or nothing in the way of symptoms.
Currently, the most reliable and safest method of testing for COVID-19 is through a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. However, the test alone can take several hours to run, plus samples have to be sent to a laboratory, meaning most patients have to wait at least a day to get the result. Faster tests do exist but are expensive and not always reliable.
The aim of DECISION is to develop an easy-to-use, low-cost, disposable test for COVID-19 that can give reliable results, on the spot, within minutes. The idea is that it can be deployed anywhere; at drive-through testing centres, airports, physician offices, hospitals, quarantine centres, and eventually, even in people’s own homes.
DECISION’s test is based on Pulse Controlled Amplification (PCA) technology. Like a PCR test, PCA amplifies the genetic material of the virus. However, PCA is both faster and cheaper, and the device itself is portable. Ultimately, the project hopes that users will have to wait just 15 minutes to get their result.