While the United States struggles to test enough people for the coronavirus, a British company claims it has developed a finger-prick test that can detect if you have the virus within 15 minutes. It says it's less unpleasant than the current tests, and you get your results much faster.
The company that created the test, AlphaBiolabs, claims it can be done at home or by a healthcare worker. The tests that are currently being done in the United States involve a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, which isn't terribly pleasant, so a finger prick might be preferable to a lot of people. It can also take days to get your results from a swab test. The company says the test costs around $150.
David Thomas, managing director of AlphaBiolabs, told the Liverpool Echo that this test would help reduce the number of people who have to rely on Britain's National Health Service (NHS).
"This rapid immunoassay-based test can detect the presence of a Covid-19 infection without using expensive private clinics or relying on an already-stretched NHS," Thomas said. "Recent studies suggest that a high percentage of patients show no clinical symptoms, which is why the spread of coronavirus is creating major logistical and operational problems for businesses, with no way of predicting how long the pandemic will last or the impact it will have."
Thomas also said that this test will help companies' human resources departments because they'll more easily know which employees have been infected and need to be quarantined. He said many companies aren't able to have people work from home, so they need to know who's sick as soon as they can.
Howard Forman, a public health professor at Yale, tells Inverse that he's seen multiple companies working hard to quickly put out tests that give you results faster and are easier to use. For example, the FDA approved the first commercial coronavirus tests on Monday. They're made by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche and the medical device company Thermo Fisher.
"Everybody is trying to ramp up this type of testing capability," Forman says. "It's a wholly good thing. There's nothing better than having more accessible testing."
Forman says we just have to make sure the tests we're using are good, as you obviously wouldn't want to start sending out tests that don't accurately diagnose people. He says we need to get to a point where we're doing a million tests a day, and he thinks we'll get there.
Though the United States hasn't ramped up testing as quickly as other industrialized nations, Forman says he's seeing "enormous innovation" in the private sector, and he says companies are working hard to provide the public with the tools it needs to test for this virus and beat it.
It's going to take time to contain the coronavirus and move forward, but the type of innovation we're seeing will be an important factor in making it happen. Forman says there are some positive things happening in a situation that often seems entirely negative.
The Inverse analysis
Many people are understandably upset with how the Trump administration has handled its response to the coronavirus outbreak, and it seems many feel that we're heading for the worst-case scenario because of it. However, it's important to look at the whole picture and realize there are many people in the United States doing things that will help contain the virus and eventually defeat it. Many governors, mayors, public health officials and innovators are working hard to help us get ahead of this thing, so if you're feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, just try to remember that. It's not all bad news.