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Backpack COVID Testing

Researchers have developed a lab-in-a-backpack that can quickly and cheaply test for COVID-19, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Stoyan Smoukov, professor of chemical engineering at Queen Mary University of London, and his colleagues developed a saliva-based, rapid, and low-cost system to test for SARS-CoV-2 using a LAMP colorimetric test kit. As they report in PLOS One, the backpack-sized system costs $51 and includes a $28 electronic centrifuge, a thermometer, a thermos bottle, and two micropipettes. They further report that their system and RT-LAMP protocol and kit could detect four viral RNA copies per μL.

Such a system, the Jerusalem Post says, could enable COVID-19 testing in areas with limited resources and few trained personnel.

"It will not only provide a viable and inexpensive test kit for regions such as Africa, where innovative solutions are particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic," first author Emily Lin from QMUL says in a statement. "It can also be used in resource-rich areas, for example, in high school classrooms to demonstrate how to test for COVID-19."