London: Coronavirus is here to stay, or so it seems. With the passage of time, since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, new techniques and devices have been developed to test and treat the deadly virus.
In the latest innovation, a low-cost COVID-testing method has been developed, using samples taken from the screens of mobile phones.
A team, led by researchers from University College London, has developed a non-invasive method to detect the virus, which they claim to be very accurate as well.
Instead of collecting samples directly from human beings, the researchers analyzed swabs from smartphone screens. It was found that people who tested positive through the regular nasal swab samples were also positive when samples were taken from phone screens.
According to the findings, the new method — named Phone Screen Testing (PoST) — detected the virus on the phones of 81 to 100 per cent of contagious people with a high viral load.
The findings, which have been published in the journal eLife, state that PoST is an environmental test, rather than a clinical one, and is non-invasive as well as less expensive than a traditional nasal swabbing PCR.
Another advantage is that PoST sampling takes less than a minute and doesn’t require medical personnel.
“Like many, I was very worried about the economic and social impact that the pandemic would leave behind, particularly in lower-income countries. We knew that the only effective way to stop the spreading is to regularly test as many people as possible, but this was not happening because it’s too expensive and uncomfortable,” said Rodrigo Young from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, who led the research at Diagnosis Biotech.
“We immediately knew this was something special, as PoST is a method that would not only make Covid-19 mass testing much easier but could also be used to contain outbreaks of new naturally occurring and man-made viruses, to avoid future pandemics,” he added.