A blood test developed by Monash University can detect positive Covid-19 cases using blood samples in about 20 minutes and identify whether someone has contracted the virus.
The researchers were able to identify recent Covid-19 cases using 25 microlitres of plasma from blood samples. They developed a simple agglutination assay – an analysis to determine the presence and amount of a substance in the blood – to detect the presence of antibodies raised in response to the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
“This simple, rapid, and easily scalable approach has immediate application in SARS-CoV-2 serological testing, and is a useful platform for assay development beyond the Covid-19 pandemic,” said study researcher Banaszak Holl.
The researchers said that positive cases of Covid-19 cause a clustering of red blood cells, which is easily identifiable to the naked eye. This discovery could see medical practitioners across the world testing up to 200 blood samples an hour.
While current tests are used to identify people who are currently positive with Covid-19, the agglutination assay can determine whether someone had been recently infected once the infection is resolved.
The findings could help high-risk countries with population screening, case identification, contact tracing, confirming vaccine efficacy during clinical trials, and vaccine distribution.
“This simple assay, based on commonly used blood typing infrastructure and already manufactured at scale, can be rolled out rapidly across Australia and beyond,” said Simon Corrie, a senior lecturer in Chemical Engineering at Monash University. “This test can be used in any lab that has blood typing infrastructure, which is extremely common across the world.”
Researchers said they were seeking commercial and government support to conduct full clinical evaluation of the test.