A low-cost smartphone was developed by US researchers based on the diagnostic tool for COVID-19 which combines the speed of over-the-counter antigen tests with the accuracy of PCR tests. Researchers at the University of Washington in the US developed the Harmony COVID-19 test by detecting genetic material from the SARS, CoV-2 virus.
The Harmony kit provides results in less than 20 minutes while the conventional PCR tests take several hours. An associate professor at the University of Washington Bary Lutz said, “We designed the test to be low-cost and simple enough that it could be used anywhere. We hope that low-cost will make high-performance testing more accessible locally and around the world”.
Most of the at-home antigen kits earlier detected pieces of protein created instead of the generic material which led to 80-85 percent accuracy. However, PCR tests are usually 95% accurate that need expensive equipment and a long wait for the results. Meanwhile, the Harmony kit is said to be 97% accurate for nasal swabs. The kit detects three different regions of the virus genome.
According to the research, the new test will still be able to detect other mutations, even if a variant has many mutations in one region.