A saliva-based coronavirus test that could deliver results directly to patients in minutes is being developed by UK researchers.

The point-of-care Covid-19 antigen test could be carried out in places like remote testing centres, care homes, airports and workplaces, as well as more conventional clinical settings.

Developers hope to speed up contact tracing and patient isolation, helping to reduce the spread of infection and contain further outbreaks.

The test is being created through a collaboration between Luas Diagnostics and the University of Birmingham.

It will run on a small, low-cost, portable device, providing results in minutes.

Similar to a glucose metre, it will provide results at the site where the test is performed, and will use Bluetooth to transmit the results directly to a smartphone app.

Professor Tim Dafforn, lead investigator at the University of Birmingham, said: “This rapid testing capability would enable better understanding of the spread of the coronavirus, helping all of us as we learn to live within the new normal.”

Brendan Farrell, chief executive of Luas Diagnostics, said: “Currently, most testing for Covid-19 is conducted in centralised laboratories with relatively lengthy times from sample acquisition to result.

“This both delays and increases the difficulty of tracing the contacts of those who test positive, allowing further proliferation of infection.

“Our goal is to develop a true, simple-to-use, near-patient test yielding results in minutes.”

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