Imec and UZ Leuven are working on a rapid test based on published …


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The Leuven technological research center imec and UZ Leuven are developing a rapid corona test that works on the basis of exhaled air. The test must determine whether someone is contagious or not within five minutes. The aim is to test a prototype at Brussels Airport by the summer of 2021. This is reported by Flemish Minister of Innovation Hilde Crevits. It is investing 2 million euros in the new test method.

Efficient testing is an important cornerstone in the approach to the coronavirus. There are different types of tests. The most commonly used method is the so-called PCR test (polymerase chain reaction) with a sample from the nasal or pharynx.

The disadvantage of this test is that the administration must be done by trained medical personnel and that the administration is experienced by many as very uncomfortable. Moreover, the test comes with a processing time of two days.

In addition, there are antigen tests or rapid tests, but these are less reliable due to their complexity. Finally, serological testing uses a blood sample. They are faster and less expensive than PCR tests, but only verify whether a person has produced antibodies and thus has come into contact with the virus.

Imec and UZ Leuven are therefore working on a rapid test that can tell within 5 minutes whether you are a carrier of the virus and whether there is a high chance that you are contagious.

In doing so, they make use of the virus particles in the microscopic, watery particles in exhaled air. Research has shown that these particles are the main transmission route for the virus.

The researchers have started developing the underlying technology and an accompanying analysis device. That device must ensure that the processing process is limited to 5 minutes. The aim is to test a prototype at Brussels Airport by the summer of 2021.

Minister Crevits calls the development of the test “of great importance for public health”. “We have therefore decided to support this project with two million euros,” says the CD&V minister. “The project still has a long way to go, but with the necessary support, the clinical trial can be completed by the summer and testing can also take place at Brussels Airport.”


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