Rapid COVID-19 diagnostic test delivers accurate results within 4 minutes

The low-cost biosensor test developed by Penn Medicine could extend COVID-19 testing with 90% accuracy to remote and disadvantaged areas.

A low-cost, rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19 developed by Penn Medicine provides COVID-19 results within four minutes with 90% accuracy. A paper published in Matter details the fast and inexpensive diagnostic test, called RAPID 1.0 (Real-time Accurate Portable Impedimetric Detection prototype 1.0). Compared to existing methods for COVID-19 detection, RAPID is inexpensive and highly scalable, allowing the production of millions of units per week.

Gloved hands holding a smart phone with a cord plugged in that is attached to lab equipment.
Image: Penn Medicine News

Despite the urgency of the pandemic, most available methods for COVID-19 testing use RT-PCR—reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction—to detect SARS-CoV-2. Though effective, the technique requires large laboratory space and trained workers to employ. These tests are also costly, they run a risk of cross-contamination, and can take hours or days to provide results.

RAPID was developed by a team led by César de la Fuente, a presidential assistant professor in psychiatry, microbiology, chemical and biomolecular engineering, and bioengineering, to quickly and accurately detect the virus while remaining cheap enough to be widely accessible. An electrode printed using a screen printer—thousands of which can be printed in a day at very low cost—can detect the virus in nasal swab or saliva samples. The results can be read on a benchtop instrument or on a smartphone.

Read more at Penn Medicine News.