Thursday, August 06, 2020

Songkla Uni develops 15-min Covid test for distribution in South

Apr 30. 2020
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By THE NATION

Prince of Songkla University (PSU) is developing Covid-19 test kits that can produce results in 15 minutes, and is aiming to distribute the first batch to three deep South provinces by May 15.

The PSU Covid-19 Rapid Test Kit uses the principle of immunochromatography to detect IgM and IgG antibodies produced by the body’s immune system after it has become infected with Covid-19, explained Asst Professor Theerakamol Phengsakul, a researcher at PSU’s Medical Technology Faculty. The test is conducted on a small blood sample of 15-20 microlitres (a few drops).

“It can produce results in 15-20 minutes via a colour-strip similar to a pregnancy test,” he said.

“The test kits can be stored at room temperature for several months, making them suitable to use in remote areas where medical equipment is limited.”

Once the first batch is produced, the test kits will be distributed to the three southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat by May 15. The following batches will be delivered to all 14 provinces in the South.

Currently, the standard method for detecting Covid-19 is the RT-PCR test, which identifies ribonucleic acid (RNA) from the virus in patients’ respiratory fluid.

“The traditional method requires skilled staff, expensive equipment, and takes 2-3 hours to produce results. Therefore it is not suitable for field testing, not to mention the fact that collecting samples brings a high risk of spreading the virus,” said Theerakamol.

“The new method is designed to be a preliminary screening procedure as it requires less time and poses minimal risk of the virus spreading from the collection of blood samples. If a patient gets a positive result from the rapid test kit, they should then be tested by the RT-PCR method to confirm the result.”

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