The Technion rapid test for COCID-19. (Technion) (Technion)
technion

The innovative and low-cost ‘NaorCov19’ test was developed at the Technion and gives results on the spot.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Israel’s world-famous Technion Institute university rolled out its accurate, inexpensive and rapid COVID-19 test, launching a campus-wide test program for faculty, staff and students at its Haifa campus.

“To support a gradual return and to maintain health, the Technion is opening a rapid testing station in the student union [building]. The tests are based on technology developed in the laboratory of Prof. Naama Geva-Zatorsky of the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.

The non-invasive test analyzes saliva in a cup, which provides results in an hour or less. The campus testing program is free and is being performed as part of an experiment approved by the Helsinki Committee in Israel, which validates pharmaceutical innovations.

The field test is expected to confirm that NaorCov19 not only works, but can be marketed as a home-test that people can do by themselves. The Technion’s commercial partner is already ramping up for commercial production

The launch of the testing system came at the same time as the infection rate in Israel spikes to the highest levels in months, with a dramatic increase in the number of patients hospitalized across the country.

That state of affairs intensifies the importance of the rapid-test rollout on campus, the university said.

The technology is being commercialized by the Technion for further development by Rapid Diagnostic Systems Ltd.

The technology is modular, permitting anything from individual testing (a home-testing kit) to large-scale tests at testing stations or laboratories. The same workstation may run dozens of samples simultaneously.

Thanks to its simplicity, the testing kit is suitable for testing in workplaces, airports and schools. The developers say the test has 90% accuracy in the infectious stages when the viral load in the body is medium to high.

The new test is based on principles similar to those used in laboratory testing called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which uses a process that mixes the saliva sample with advanced chemicals and then heats the solution to rapidly reproduce DNA.

The chemical process is complex, but the results are clear. If the color of liquid changes, the test is positive for coronavirus. The Technion method avoids the need for expensive chemicals and laboratories, reducing the cost of manpower, equipment, and sample-to-lab transportation.

Testing is done Sunday through Thursday by signing up online. The test results are confidential and will be delivered to the person being tested using a secured link. Only if the person being tested approves will positive test results be forwarded to the Technion’s head of coronavirus security, who ensures the safety of dormitory residents and campus visitors. The anonymous data will also be used for further coronavirus research at the Technion.

“We are proud that a test developed in the Technion will assist in breaking the chain of infection and in maintaining the health of campus visitors, and wish you all good luck,” the university told its community.

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