A team of researchers from National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed a portable COVID-19 micro-PCR diagnostic system that enables rapid and accurate on-site screening of infectious diseases.
The new system, called Epidax, will enable COVID-19 screening to be conducted directly at various testing stations, and patients can get their test results in about an hour from the time they get a nasal swab.
In a press statement, NUS said the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that is currently being used for COVID-19 diagnosis has to be carried out in specialised testing facilities, and takes a few hours or a few days for results to be made known.
On the other hand, Epidax – which is about the size of a toaster – is portable and can be deployed quickly and easily on-site for virus infection screening. The novel diagnostic system was developed from scratch in a record time of two months. A project of this scale would typically take at least one to two years to complete, said NUS.
“Until a vaccine against the coronavirus becomes available, ramping up testing is a critical first step to curb the spread of the disease and to provide appropriate medical care for those tested positive," said Lim Chwee Teck, Director of the NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (iHealthtech).
"However, these tests take time and come at a high cost in terms of manpower and equipment. If we can quickly detect the coronavirus, we can better contain it. Epidax provides an effective solution to address these limitations,” said Prof Lim.