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Trying a Quick Screen

Officials in Racine, Wisc., are trying out a cheaper, faster approach to screen for COVID-19, Wired reports.

According to Wired, firefighters there are set up to collect saliva samples from city workers that they then analyze using a loop-mediated isothermal amplification-based, or LAMP, test. In April, Weill Cornell's Chris Mason and his colleague posted a preprint about the approach on BioRxiv and his Facebook and Twitter posts about it caught the attention of his brother, who is the mayor of Racine, Wired writes.

As Wired notes, the test is similar to a PCR-based test, but faster and cheaper, though also less accurate. Still, it adds that as a screening tool, a dip in accuracy can be offset by more frequent testing as incorrect results would be caught in the next testing round. Quick results — the firefighters have the morning samples' results by lunch — could also help isolate infected people quickly, it says.

But the screening is being done in a research capacity to determine its accuracy, and people whose samples come back positive are called to return for a nasal swab that is sent off for PCR analysis, Wired adds.