Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in the US have developed a device to identify viruses, such as Covid-19, in the human body as quickly as rapid detection tests.

The new device has a 95% accuracy rate for determining if a person carries a virus, a claim that matches the accuracy of the gold-standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based tests. However, unlike some tests, the device offers nearly instantaneous results.

The device uses nano-scale patterns of gold that reflect the virus signature in a blood sample. The optical sensor in the device uses nanotechnology to identify viruses present in the sample in seconds.

UCF stated that the different DNA sequences will be used to identify different viruses.

Additionally, the new device can directly detect viruses without needing preparation or purification of blood samples, which further accelerates the test results.

UCF NanoScience Technology Center professor and study co-author Debashis Chanda said: “The sensitive optical sensor, along with the rapid fabrication approach used in this work, promises the translation of this promising technology to any virus detection, including Covid-19 and its mutations, with high degree of specificity and accuracy.

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“Here, we demonstrated a credible technique which combines PCR-like genetic coding and optics on a chip for accurate virus detection directly from blood.”

The device was tested using Dengue virus samples. Chanda stated that the technology used in the device can easily be adapted to detect other viruses, such as Covid-19.

The researchers also tested and confirmed the effectiveness of the device using different virus concentration levels and solution environments.

The device will now be adapted to identify more viruses.

Last month, Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center researchers developed a new rapid breath test to detect Covid-19 in critically ill patients.