Aus university develops 20-minute COVID-19 blood test

A blood test developed by Australia’s Monash University could detect positive COVID-19 cases in about 20 minutes.

Based on commonly used blood typing infrastructure, researchers at the Melbourne-based university developed a simple agglutination assay to identify antibodies generated in response to COVID-19, Xinhua news agency reported.

The test requires 25 microliters of plasma from blood samples and positive COVID-19 cases will cause agglutination or clustering of the red blood cells, which is easily identifiable to the naked eye.

“Detection of antibodies in patient plasma or serum involves pipetting a mixture of reagent red blood cells and antibody-containing serum or plasma onto a gel card containing separation media, incubating the card for 5-15 minutes, and using a centrifuge to separate agglutinated cells from free cells,” senior lecturer in Chemical Engineering Simon Corrie said in a statement on Monday.

While the current swab tests are used to detect active COVID-19 infection, the antibody test can determine whether someone was infected in the past, thus helping high-risk countries with population screening, case identification, contact tracing and confirming vaccine efficacy during clinical trials.

“This simple assay, based on commonly used blood typing infrastructure and already manufactured at scale, can be rolled out rapidly across Australia and beyond,” Corrie said.

“This test can be used in any lab that has blood typing infrastructure, which is extremely common across the world.”

The study has been published in the journal ACS Sensors.

Researchers said they were seeking commercial and government support to conduct full clinical evaluation of the test.